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A timeline of the recent sexual harassment claims within LMPD

Woman in police uniform with eyes closed sits among a crowd
J. Tyler Franklin
Police chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel is on administrative leave, pending an investigation into how she handled a claim of sexual harassment among her senior officers.

The Louisville Metro Police Department is again at the center of controversy, this time over whether leaders did enough to root out sexual harassment in its ranks.

On June 12, Louisville Metro Police Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel was suspended after audio of her response to a sexual harassment allegation was leaked to the press. Now, after two more women have come forward with similar claims, Mayor Craig Greenberg has promised more changes to the department’s policies and procedures are on the way.

With multiple ongoing investigations, details about LMPD’s current crisis have trickled out in press conferences and lawsuits. Competing claims about who’s a victim and who’s an alleged harasser have also complicated the picture.

Here’s what we know so far about the sexual harassment allegations within LMPD and the department’s response, according to lawsuits and statements from the victims and city officials.

Alleged incidents of sexual harassment date back years

Between 2015 and 2020: Sgt. Lauren Carby worked as a detective investigating domestic violence within LMPD’s Special Victims Unit. During this time, Carby alleges that her supervisor, then-Lt. Shannon Lauder, made numerous inappropriate sexual comments and gave special treatment to a detective she was rumored to be having an affair with.

Aug. 1, 2020: Sgt. Lauren Carby attends a party hosted by Shannon Lauder and her husband, Jeff Lauder, to celebrate Shannon’s promotion to the position of major within LMPD.

At the party, Carby was harassed and propositioned by Jeff, she alleged in a lawsuit. Carby says Shannon encouraged her to have sex with her husband.

“[Carby] pushed Jeff Lauder away and quickly left the Lauder home,” according to the lawsuit.

August 2020: In the days following the party, Carby allegedly exchanged numerous phone calls and text messages with Shannon. Carby informs Shannon multiple officers witnessed her and Jeff’s behavior at the party.

Shannon denies rumors about what happened at the party, leading to Carby being labeled “a ‘liar,’ a ‘gossip,’ and ‘dramatic,’” according to Carby.

Carby does not make any formal complaint, opting to keep her head down and move on with her job, she said.

Oct. 5, 2022: LMPD’s peer support team meets with members of the Domestic Violence Unit, who are “struggling with increasing caseloads” and “the emotional weight many continued to feel from the 2020 protests in Louisville,” according to Carby.

Maj. Mindy Vance, the commander of the peer support team, repeatedly brings up the Lauders’ 2020 pool party during this meeting. Carby alleges that, after the meeting, Vance encouraged her to report the harassment and misconduct she experienced at the party two years ago.

Late 2022: Vance allegedly contacts Carby multiple times, encouraging her to report the Lauders. Carby declines.

Without Carby’s consent, Vance reaches out to the head of LMPD’s internal investigation units and reports the Lauders’ alleged harassment and misconduct. LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit, which evaluates officers’ behavior for potential policy violations, initiates an investigation.

Carby says she fully cooperated with the investigation, giving two statements or interviews to PSU investigators.

Feb. 19, 2023: Police recruit Christine Silk, an Army veteran and mother, begins her training at the LMPD Training Academy.

Within the first week, Silk alleges, officer Dale Cottongim makes inappropriate comments to her about being a single mother, including asking if she had a one-night stand to conceive her son.

Silk eventually reports Cottongim’s conduct to Training Sergeant Amanda Seelye. Cottongim is later reprimanded and transferred out of the training division, although he was exonerated of sexual harassment.

March 7, 2023: The police union, River City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 614, files a lawsuit against Louisville Metro Government. The union alleges that the investigation of the Lauders’ alleged sexual misconduct and harassment violates the collective bargaining agreement between the FOP and LMPD, because the complaint was based on protected and confidential information disclosed as part of the peer support process.

Sept. 8, 2023: Silk is sworn in as an LMPD officer.

Officer Justin LeMon is assigned to be one of Silk’s field training officers. Silk alleges LeMon made inappropriate comments and sexual advances toward her soon after they started working together.

Nov. 18-19, 2023: Silk alleges LeMon sent her multiple sexual text messages, including a photo of his genitals.

Dec. 12, 2023: Silk’s new field training officer, Grant Combs, sends a written memorandum to LMPD leadership detailing Silk’s allegations of sexual misconduct against LeMon.

April 12, 2024: Silk sends her own written memorandum to one of her supervisors, which includes specific instances of LeMon’s alleged misconduct.

The Professional Standards Unit starts an investigation, which remains ongoing. LeMon is currently on administrative reassignment, according to Silk’s lawsuit.

April 18, 2024: Due to the police union’s lawsuit, a Jefferson County Circuit Court halts the internal investigation into the alleged misconduct at the 2020 pool party, agreeing with the union that the complaint about the Lauders was based on confidential information that was improperly disclosed.

May 11, 2024: Silk is placed on routine administrative reassignment after the fatal shooting of a man in Pleasure Ridge Park. She was one of three officers who fired a weapon during the incident.

Silk is denied temporary assignments to the Homicide Unit and the Traffic Unit, she believes, in retaliation for speaking up about sexual harassment.

May 15, 2024: Carby files a formal complaint with LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit, alleging Shannon and Jeff Lauder sexually harassed her at the 2020 pool party. Carby hopes this first-person complaint will allow the investigation to move forward.

Police chief placed on leave

May 22, 2024: During a meeting of LMPD’s command staff, Chief Jackie Gwinn-Villaroel asks each of the department’s majors whether they can work with the other leaders in the room.

When called upon, Maj. Shannon Lauder says she cannot work with Maj. Brian Kuriger because he has “sexually harassed and attacked” her. Kuriger oversees LMPD’s internal investigations, including the one into the Lauders’ alleged misconduct.

Gwinn-Villaroel announced less than a minute after Shannon’s comments that she intended to promote Kuriger to the position of Lieutenant Colonel. The audio recording did not include any comments by Gwinn-Villaroel about what Kuriger’s responsibilities would be in the potential new role.

June 10, 2024: Louisville Metro Government signs a contract with retired FBI agent David Beyer to investigate whether Gwinn-Villaroel responded appropriately to Shannon’s disclosure of alleged misconduct by Kuriger, according to Mayor Craig Greenberg.

Greenberg has not said when he first learned of what happened at the May 22 meeting.

June 12, 2024: Around noon, a reporter with the television news station WAVE 3 contacts LMPD saying she’s obtained audio of that May 22 meeting.

Greenberg calls a short-notice press conference just before 6 p.m., when WAVE 3’s story was set to air. Greenberg informs reporters he’s placed Gwinn-Villaroel on paid suspension, pending the independent investigation by Beyer.

Later that night, an attorney representing Shannon shares a longer version of the recording with local reporters.

June 13, 2024: Shannon Lauder’s attorney, Jared Smith, holds a press conference outside of Metro Hall.

He shares no additional details about her allegation of sexual harassment by Kuriger. Smith says Shannon hired him to investigate incidents “that span the last four years of time.”

June 18, 2024: Officer Christine Silk files a lawsuit against the city, alleging leaders created a hostile work environment and failed to take the proper steps to protect her from harassment.

June 20, 2024: Sgt. Lauren Carby files a lawsuit against the city, also alleging a hostile work environment. She lays out her accusations against Shannon and Jeff Lauder related to the 2020 pool party.

Jared Smith, the lawyer representing Shannon, denies the sexual harassment allegations, calling Carby “opportunistic.”

Greenberg holds a press conference later in the afternoon. Greenberg says the multiple allegations of sexual harassment within LMPD are “incredibly upsetting” and promises to move quickly on announcing new policies and procedures for dealing with workplace sexual misconduct.

This story may be updated.

Roberto Roldan is the City Politics and Government Reporter for WFPL. Email Roberto at rroldan@lpm.org.

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