By Steve Bittenbender
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (Reuters) - The mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, on Friday asked the FBI to investigate potential violations of federal law in a case involving sexual abuse charges made against two city police officers.
Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement he also has named a special investigator to oversee an investigation into the accusations that the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) officers sexually abused a teenager while he was part of a Boy Scout-affiliated youth program. The charges were made last week in a lawsuit filed in Jefferson Circuit Court on behalf of a man identified in court papers only as N.C.
“We have to get to the bottom of these disturbing allegations,” Fischer said in the statement.
A copy of the 25-page complaint obtained by the Courier-Journal newspaper claims the teen was raped and sexually abused by officers and the episodes were recorded and used to make pornography.
A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Louisville office, David Habich, said in an email the agency was aware of the allegations but declined to confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
The lawsuit, which was sealed, was filed on behalf of the man, who joined the Louisville Metro Police Youth Explorers program in 2011 when he was 16, his attorney previously said.
The police ran the program, which has been suspended, in affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America. It was open to anyone aged 14 to 19 interested in a law enforcement career.
The man's attorney, David Yates, asked for the lawsuit to be sealed and has declined to give specifics, including the names of the officers. Fischer has asked that the case be unsealed.
The Courier-Journal reported on Friday that decisions made at the time by police Chief Steve Conrad, who told the paper he could not comment because the case was sealed, would be part of the investigation. A spokesman for the police could not immediately be reached for comment.
The mayor appointed Kerry Harvey, who until this year had been the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, to conduct the probe.
“The allegations surrounding the Explorer program, if true, represent unacceptable conduct involving children, and the citizens of Louisville deserve to know what happened,” Harvey, now with the Lexington office of law firm Dickinson Wright, said in the statement.
Also on Friday, Fischer ordered an inquiry into all city programs involving children and teenagers to ensure measures are in place to ensure their safety.
(This story corrects spelling of mayor's name throughout to Fischer, instead of Fisher)
(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Louisville and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Writing by Ben Klayman; Editing by James Dalgleish)