Louisville PD Hid Thousands Of Records Detailing Officers' Abuse Of Minors, Deleted Backups When Local Paper Asked For Them

from the move-along-nothing-to-see-here dept

The people who are supposed to be the bulwark standing between regular society and criminal society are, far too often, criminals themselves. They promise they’re doing everything they can to end the sexual exploitation of children but often aren’t willing to address the exploitation committed by officers.

The Louisville Metro Police is still dealing with the fallout of a botched no-knock raid, which ended with officers killing Breonna Taylor in her own apartment. Six of the 32 bullets fired by LMPD officers — some blindly through covered windows — hit Taylor. No officers were charged in Taylor’s death.

The PD is now dealing with another scandal involving its officers. Criminal charges have been brought against three officers who sexually abused minors participating in the PD’s “Explorer Program.”

A third Louisville Metro Police officer has been indicted on charges of sexually abusing a juvenile in the department’s now-defunct Explorer Program for youths aspiring to be in law enforcement.

A federal grand jury indictment accuses Brad Schuhmann, while acting as a police officer, of sexually abusing a minor in 2010, saying he “willfully deprived” a juvenile identified as Jane Doe “of liberty without due process of law, which includes the right not to have her bodily integrity violated by a person acting under color of law.”

This side project of the Boy Scouts of America has produced nearly as many sexual abuse allegations as the Boy Scout program itself. What happened in Louisville isn’t an aberration. Putting cops in close contact with minors appears to be a bad idea.

In recent decades, more than 100 police officers have had sex with Explorers they were entrusted with mentoring, the vast majority of them underage. In just the past year, two sheriff’s deputies in San Bernardino, California, were arrested for having sex with underage girls; a New York City cop was charged with child sex abuse after sending racy text messages to a 15-year-old; an officer in Bremerton, Washington, was reprimanded for sleeping with an 18-year-old; and a former cop in Burlington, North Carolina, pled guilty to taking indecent liberties with a minor after being accused of having sex with a 14-year-old he’d taken on ride-alongs.

That’s from a 2011 report. There have been numerous other incidents since then. The Louisville Courier Journal’s coverage of this current scandal — which dates back to 2017 — shows the problem infects law enforcement agencies around the nation.

In the wake of Louisville’s own Explorer scandal, in which two former officers have been accused of sexually abusing Scouts and the police department of covering it up, the Courier-Journal found that over the past 40 years, at least 137 girls and 26 boys have been allegedly raped, seduced, fondled, kissed, dated or otherwise exploited in 28 states by at least 129 law enforcement officers, firefighters and other advisers.

The youngest victims were 13. One was in the sixth grade.

One officer tried to set up three-way sex with Explorers. Another took surreptitious photographs of Explorers’ underwear. A third took bondage photos of boys he took on Civil War re-enactment camping trips. In Warick, Rhode Island, six officers had sex with one girl. In Bandon, Oregon, five officers made a sex tape featuring two girls and two boys.

Seventy-five cases resulted in criminal charges and 19 in lawsuits, including one that cost Irwindale, California, a city of only 1,422 people, $2.75 million to settle.

The latest twist in the LMPD’s ongoing scandal is its apparently deliberate attempt to hide documents related to this abuse from journalists. And the department did this with the county and city’s approval.

Louisville Metro Police concealed at least 738,000 records documenting the sexual abuse of Explorer Scouts by two officers — then lied to keep the files from the public, records show.

The Courier Journal last year requested all records regarding sexual abuse of minors by two officers in the Explorer Scout program for youths interested in law enforcement careers.

Police officials and the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office said they couldn’t comply, insisting all the records had been turned over to the FBI for its investigation.

But that wasn’t true, according to records The Courier Journal recently obtained in the appeal of its open records case.

In fact, the department still had at least 738,000 records, which the city allowed to be deleted.

While it’s true the FBI is in the middle of an investigation, the PD still had its own copies of those files on hand. Or, at least it did until the Courier Journal started asking for them. The PD then insisted it had turned everything over to the FBI. This assertion was backed up by the Assistant County Attorney. Supposedly, the FBI had “taken control” of everything, including any physical or digital copies the LMPD might have had on hand.

This assertion by County Attorney Annale Taylor was directly contradicted by the LMPD’s own statements in emails to the attorney.

Three months earlier, in June, Louisville Sgt. Robert Banta, a task force member, had told Taylor in an email he could provide “any and all documents involved in the Explorer investigation up until April 1, 2017, when the federal investigation was initiated.”

“All that information still resides in the PIU (Professional Integrity Unit) case file and is available to the county attorney’s office,” Banta said in his June 6, 2019, email, which he also sent to then-Chief Steve Conrad and LMPD legal adviser Dennis Sims.

And the denial any records still existed was contradicted by the county attorney’s office in another email to the attorney general’s office. This email said the LMPD had found thousands of documents in a “hidden folder.” A letter sent to the paper’s attorneys made it clear the PD had retained almost everything it had previously claimed the FBI was in sole possession of.

In an Oct. 21 letter to The Courier Journal’s lawyers “amending previous factual statements made in error,” Assistant County Attorney Roy Denny acknowledged 9,700 folders containing 738,000 documents — 470 gigabytes of data — had been found on the secret folder.

The catch was these had been backed up to the city’s servers, but only temporarily. These had been turned over to the FBI as well — months after the paper had asked for them — and wiped from city’s backup.

The paper is now accusing the LMPD and city of destroying records. The county attorney office’s legal representative, Kenyon Meyer, insists no destruction has occurred. The paper still has the option of demanding these records from the FBI.

Just little intra-government coverup, apparently. The city and PD seem more than willing to deal with accusations of records destruction and open records law violations if it means they won’t immediately have to deal with whatever’s in the thousands of files related to multiple officers’ sexual abuse of minors. Sending these away to the FBI — and deleting their own copies — places the paper back at square one. It will take another set of FOIA requests — and more litigation — to acquire the records these two entities seemingly want buried.

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Comments on “Louisville PD Hid Thousands Of Records Detailing Officers' Abuse Of Minors, Deleted Backups When Local Paper Asked For Them”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Louisville Police Department

Perhaps a law enforcement organization with a mandate to protect and serve the public, trained in deescalation and non-lethal apprehension, with full accountability to the public; extremely limited access to lethal weapons; zero access to military grade hardware; required knowledge of the laws they’re charged with enforcing; a community-lead oversight committee; staff trained in dealing with mental illness and interfacing with the community in which the organization operates.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Louisville Police Department

That would be a good start. Employers paying a living wage might help the populace be less of a burden upon law enforcement. There is a relationship between poverty and crime, I do not think that is disputed and yet nothing is done about it. Society sure does waste a lot of resources.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Filling a police vacuum

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is an actual Peeler-based police service. One in which the officers are worthy of being called professional and officers, rather than people who can’t seem to help but assault / rape / shoot anyone who offends their sensibilities.

But we can certainly go beyond that by approaching the causes for crime. For instance, we have a lot fewer homicides thanks to a lower rate of domestic incidents ending in violence. Women have their own money and can go to hotels or shelters when they don’t feel safe. (In some places there are shelters for men — who are abused more often than we think.) Michael Hobbes explains here why our murder rates are significantly lower than the 50s and 60s but also our rate of clearing murders is also lower (35% rather than 90% — it’s no longer always the spouse.)

To cite another example, the test balloon in Portugal where they decriminalized drug possession and use about fifteen years ago, and focused a lot on recovery programs and directing victims there has shown to be wildly successful. Let’s do that!

Of course, right now many of our law enforcement programs are essentially secret police for the administration and for US establishment, such as the FBI, or rental police for corporations that want to preserve their market, such as ICE.

But law enforcement nationwide is about as effective as the TSA which is an awful lot of theater and tedium for no improved protection against terrorism — or really any other criminal element.

And the clincher is that we do absolutely nothing to investigate or curb white collar crime (such as that which triggered the Subprime Mortgage Crisis) which by orders of magnitude causes more death, devastation and enumerable damages than all the petty crime — including serial murders and rampage murders — that our law enforcement sector is hired to deter. White collar criminals are the ones we should be focusing the most assets on, and that we don’t is an indictment of our alleged adherence to rule of law.

This is to say we should abolish the justice system for a more public-serving program while we still have a nation worth saving.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Louisville Police Department

"Right. So what do they fill that vacuum with?"

Gee, I’m sure that if you think the vacuum left behind by an organization which systematically sexually abuses children needs filling you should probably come up with an answer to that yourself and try to sell the idea.

Those more sane and rational just assume that any organization which has demonstrated a tendency to murder at will and abuse children is an organization which can not be defended no matter what it’s stated purpose is.

As a european I used to find it fucking horrifying that so many americans insisted on being armed for self-defense. Surely even the US had police officers? Then I grew old enough to learn and read the statistics and discovered what an american cop is and suddenly understood a lot more about why americans cling to their 2nd amendment.

As the OP describes it, not only are the police themselves responsible for a significant proportion of statutory rape, their departments often help trying to hide that, assisted by the city.

A question such as; "What should fill the vaccum left by the institutional sex offender and violent thug", should not be considered serious.

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Anon says:


What I do wonder is – some guy fires several with his licensed handgun against a group of people breaking down the door to his apartment. Multiple officers fire back – yet NOBODY hits the fellow defending his home. They kill someone else, they send shots into random apartments, but they can’t hit the person shooting at them. I would say that firearms training is sorely lacking.

(Almost like a police officer who fires point blank into the back a person he thinks is reaching for a weapon. Seven times. And the fellow lives…)

If you can’t even properly do the task you’re trying to do with a firearm, why do you even have one??? Some guys are just shit-lucky the cops can’t use a firearm properly, but if they can’t even use a gun properly…

Not to mention the question of why they are using weapons in the first place.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Only one thing to infer really

If the city is aiding and abetting the police department’s attempted coverup for abuse and molestation of children to the tune of deleting just under eight-hundred thousand documents then I’d say the default assumption until proven otherwise should be that not only the entire department is involved and needs to be fired and blacklisted immediately but the city was/is in on it, and the documents were deleted because some city officials were involved as well. Supporting this are the sheer number of documents destroyed, as you do not get that many documents from the actions of two individuals unless they’ve been there for well over a century each.

Unless they’re in the habit of covering up for crimes that they have no involvement with whatsoever, which itself would be all sorts of damning, the extent to which they are trying to keep this buried leaves city officials looking all sorts of suspicious and they should be treated as such under the idea of ‘rarely does a person destroy exonerating evidence’, and if that seems unfair then they probably shouldn’t have destroyed evidence that might have allowed people to separate the innocent from the guilty, so too damn bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Only one thing to infer really

The files still exist, it’s just that it’s the FBI you now have to get them from. The FBI doesn’t have a horse in the city/PD coverup, so other than standard "investigative documents" and privacy sort of bases, they might well cough up the papers without a lot of fight.

There’s a lot of baby in that bathwater you’re chucking. It takes multitudes to create all those documents that got destroyed. But it takes just one person one command to delete a whole tree of files. Should the person who hid, instead of deleting, the files should be sought out and lauded for a valiant attempt in the face of corruption? The Courier Journal might still some day find an anonymous USB stick in the mail…

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Only one thing to infer really

"There’s a lot of baby in that bathwater you’re chucking."

Nope. Seriously, this is quite literally the case of a bunch of bad apples actively committing a crime or assisting in the coverup of said crime – and a large group of other people who saw fit not to report it.

Both of the above actively disqualified themselves from public service.

One of the reasons the US is in such dire trouble today is because they’re too damn afraid of chucking that bathwater out. Every time you try to cut out the rot of a government or state authority you leave enough wormy parts behind to spread through whatever you try to set up as replacement.

Meaningful QC has utterly failed to the point where it’s time for the guys in ABC suits and flamethrowers. And the longer you put it off the more expensive and inevitable that solution gets.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

The files still exist, it’s just that it’s the FBI you now have to get them from

“But the plans were on display…”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a flashlight.”
“Ah, well, the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard.”

There is a significant difference between a local paper asking the local police department to cough up documents relating to local activity and them having to go ask the FBI to pretty please hand over a copy.

There’s a lot of baby in that bathwater you’re chucking.

As I noted above too damn bad. They had records that could have narrowed the scope of guilty people but decided that records pertaining to police officers abusing kids weren’t that important after a paper started looking into the matter, and much like if someone without a badge destroys records/evidence it’s assumed to have been damning in court it seems only fair to apply the same standard to them.

It takes multitudes to create all those documents that got destroyed. But it takes just one person one command to delete a whole tree of files.

… and? Multiple people knew full well that the records were being sought and why, unless they’ve got a rogue officer/official that went against what the others wanted then I find it nearly impossible to believe that others didn’t know about the planned deletion, and the fact that they defend the action by claiming that it wasn’t really a deletion since you can still request the documents from the FBI further undercuts the ‘rogue officer/official’ idea.

Should the person who hid, instead of deleting, the files should be sought out and lauded for a valiant attempt in the face of corruption?

If they existed perhaps so, but the paper is looking into the matter and they’re no-where to be found, so either they got cold feet or don’t exist.

The Courier Journal might still some day find an anonymous USB stick in the mail…

Sure, and the USB stick might also contain the winning lotto numbers for the next ten years and directions to a pot of gold.

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Something something when the image of the thing is the most important thing, the first victim is integrity.

Cops covering for cops who do horrible things.
Perhaps we’ve allowed perverse thinking to win.

I can’t report on my buddy diddling the 6th grader, b/c other cops will call me a rat & maybe not have my back.
Some of them might support their right to diddle 6th graders, but much of this is the tribal thinking of us vs them… the problem is that we’re them & we end up paying the bill for their bad acts. Hell most of the time we can’t even demand the child diddler be fired b/c out leadership fears the thin blue line more than us… because we somehow think they are protecting us when its becoming clear they are doing more crime than they are stopping.

They put the image of a police department sexually abusing children ahead of protecting children. To make Popehat twitch, how the fsck is this not RICO?
An ongoing criminal enterprise, stealing public funds, subverting authority & law, b/c allowing them to keep diddling kids was a small price to maintain their image of good upstanding people.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Keeping up appearances.

Every large church to the last one that has a congregation of 1000+ has covered up for at least one sexual assault. Most notoriously, youth pastors tend bang their own flock, typically one of the more sex-curious tweens or teens. It’s a problem.

To be fair, I don’t know for certain what the congregation threshold is before a sex scandal is assured. It might be around 300 or 500. I chose 1000 because that’s a safe guess. There are plenty of tiny, single-site non-denominational churches with 50 to 100 parishioners that are small enough to get lucky for a while.

When it happens early in a church’s growth, the elders have to ask themselves: do we go public with our findings and risk scaring our flock away? Or do we bury it and silence the victims so that the institution may thrive. When they assume that the people benefit from a larger church, the answer becomes consistent.

On the upper end, we have huge ministries like the Southern Baptist Church, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, they have a built in infrastructure.

The LDS church notoriously has a sex harassment hotline members are supposed to call if there’s an incident which will hook the victims up with age-appropriate faith-accepted counseling. What it really does is call the legal team to general quarters. The lawyers come in, contain the story and assure the victims will stay quiet. Also when ministries get that huge, there are endless numbers of preachers, elders and (as above) youth pastors who routinely sample more attractive members of the flock — sometimes through extortion or coercion. I mean why not, when there are no consequences?

And the recent mass-cover-up with the Roman Catholic Church is not the first time the Church has had blowback from a botched cover-up. But then medieval priests are a stereotypically randy lot. (Reverend Green in the British version of Cluedo is a man of the cloth, since even holy men can be murderers.)

But the greatest horror of the Catholic sex ring is how the Catholic church is not unique in its scandals and failure to control them. Rather it’s a feature of all large hierarchical institutions that worry too much about losing confidence of the public.

We can expect it not just in churches and law enforcement, but any large corporation or government department that has direct contact with the public, or enough worker-manager relationships to prime exploitation.

In similar statistics, ~30% of psychotherapists are banging one of their patients. I can’t speak to how many are banging more than one. I also can’t speak to pediatric psychologists.

That SmartAlec says:

Re: Re: Keeping up appearances.

Uriel-238, I don’t think it’s the size of the potential victim pool, but rather a function of the number of "trusted members" in the organization–be they clergy, elders, police, teachers, or Scout Leaders–that determine the base risk. But the organization has to deal with that risk. The Boy Scouts instituted a two-adult rule. Some doctors insist on having a nurse present for exams.

The Catholic Church in Pennsylvania kept records! The 800+ page 2018 Grand Jury report took two years: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/ Some names are redacted, but you might derive an estimate from the statistics in that report.

The movie Spotlight showed how the Boston Globe journalists discovered that the Catholic Church in Boston shuffled predators from their parish to temporary rehab housing before reassignment. If memory serves, 6% of clergy were involved.

Another US study estimated 4%. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sex_abuse_cases_in_the_United_States

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Size of the victim pool

It correlates to the size of the victim pool, but as churches get bigger so does the organization to keep track of it, and the number of folks in authority. Also the number of services.

A colleague of mine was inappropriately… propositioned by the Cantor at a Jewish temple with about two-hundred members. By the time she reported it to the elders (with much hesitation) he was a known problem. But it’s one point in a data set. I think it’s a matter of risk that correlates to size and structure.

But it’s terrifying how often the choice is to bury it and silence the victims rather than report the findings. It’s even more terrifying that this tendency continues on to secular institutions, not just religious ones.

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A. Mazing Truly says:

Re: IM. POSS. IBLE. That so many are original, non duplicates.

Techdirt, as usual, innumerate and reckless, doesn’t at all regard the 738,000 – 470 gigabytes figures as anything but impressive and thereby conclusory.

[Went in only after 8 tries when modified by removing the above paragraph. Blame Techdirt’s lousy system for causing sprawl besides its "hiding" that I’m also protesting.]

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A. Mazing Truly says:

738,000 "documents" is impossible to produce by hand.

470E9 / 738,000 = 636,856 bytes average. That average is too small to be Word .doc files, yet as text it’d be book-length, WAY too much for a report.

Pick a number of officers assigned to investigate. I think 20 would be very high:

738,000 / 20 = = 36,900 "documents" made by EACH investigating officer.

But the stated term is about ten years, so allow that they somehow keep finding more facts: 3690 per year. It’s STILL impossible even at ridiculously high 240 working days: 3690 / 240 = 15.375 "documents" a day.

NO ONE can possibly interview / investigate / write / track / integrate that much "data".

Nor are there many relevant facts capable of being found in relatively simple case, even by exclusion of where they weren’t and what they didn’t do.

Inescapable conclusion is that the "738,000" are multiply duplicated backups.

It’s even stated above! — "these had been backed up to the city’s servers".

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A. Mazing Truly says:

But Techdirt LIKES big numbers, so repeats the "738,000".

Now let’s consider a newspaper wading through those: I’d say 20 reporters is again high, and so numbers come out practically impossible: FAR too many to even glance at, let alone study each, pick out key points, and organize.

There simply CANNOT be even 0.1% of 738,000 relevant points in this or any case. For you innumerate, that’d be 738. At best, it’s useless: even complex financial trials don’t expect juries to handle that many points. You boil it down to KEY ones.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That, and as usual he utterly fails to realize that police, holding the government violence monopoly must be subject to far more serious scrutiny than the citizens who are not similarly empowered by the government to infringe certain civil rights given due cause.

I.e. If a single cop turns out to be a pedophile that’s grounds to turn the entire department inside out. The same does not hold true if you suspect a percentage of the citizenry of making unlawful copies of media.

Proportion and rationality was never Baghdad Bob’s strong suit.

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Ed (profile) says:

The biggest lie

The biggest lie being told is that there are good cops. No, there aren’t. Allowing bad cops to continue to be bad while standing by and doing nothing is not being a "good cop". There are no good cops. Abolish the entire system and start over from scratch. Fire the lot of them, prosecute the ones who are most egregious. This includes corrupt DAs, as well.

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