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$3.65M settlement reached in LMPD Explorer program abuse case

Louisville Metro Police headquarters
Louisville Metro Police headquarters

Seven plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Louisville Metro Government and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) regarding the LMPD Explorer Program will receive $3.65 million after reaching a settlement last week. An arbiter will be brought in to help split the money among the plaintiffs.

“It’s our hope that this settlement brings some closure for those involved. We must continue our work to ensure the appalling interactions that led to this investigation never happen again,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, in a press release. 

The lawsuits surround sex abuse allegations, including rape, against Louisville Metro Police Department officers who worked with the Explorer program, a program meant to train and encourage youth to join law enforcement.

Three former LMPD officers were convicted in federal court on charges relating to sex crimes following allegations they used the program to abuse children.

The first lawsuit was filed in March 2017.

Fischer suspended the Explorer program and appointed former U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey as special investigator into allegations about the program that same month.

Harvey released the investigation’s findings in a report in June 2018.

That year, the lawsuit was moved to federal court. Originally, former Metro Council president David Yates represented the plaintiffs, but he was removed from the case due to a conflict of interest.

The pandemic further slowed the case’s progress in court.

“We were held up from a lot of things because of COVID, we were unable to take the depositions of the two police who are in federal custody because their prisons were on lock down,” said Tad Thomas, the lawyer for the plaintiffs. “So we still had quite a way to go in discovery and would have been another year or two before trial.” 

He said the BSA bankruptcy filing would have even further delayed the case. The BSA’s insurance funds will be at risk in bankruptcy court. If a settlement had not been reached before that case began, Thomas' clients could have received less money.

The vast majority of the $3.65 million dollar settlement will come from BSA, while Metro Government's insurance will be responsible for less than $1 million

Thomas said the case resulted in a shift in state law that increased the statute of limitations to 10 years for such crimes. Previously, organizations could be held accountable for child sex abuse crimes only up to one year after the victims turned 18.

“Victims of child sex abuse come forward in their own time. We had an issue in our cases with the statute of limitations and there was an argument that some of my clients had come forward, filed their lawsuits too late,” said Thomas.

Thomas hopes that Kentucky will go further and  eliminate the statute of limitations for reporting child sex abuse

“There are people that don’t come to grips with what happened to them, until far after that 10-year limit,” said Thomas.

The identities of the plaintiffs have been kept confidential for their own safety and protection.

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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