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Former LMPD officer accuses department of retaliation for reporting sex abuse in Explorer program

Paul Paris said the administration created a hostile work environment for him after he blew the whistle on sex abuse claims in the Youth Explorer program.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A former Louisville police officer is accusing LMPD of retaliation after he reported an allegation of sexual assault in the department's Youth Explorer program.

Paul Paris claims he was the first to uncover the sex abuse scandal in the Explorer program. In a lawsuit filed by attorney Sam Aguiar, the former advisor for the program said he immediately investigated a report from a teenager who said she was receiving inappropriate contacts from Kenneth Betts.

Paris said he confirmed the allegation and reported the information to multiple commanding officers in 2013, but faced "tremendous consequences" in the coming years.

The lawsuit claims Paris became "guilty by association," saying he was repeatedly passed over for special assignments despite being the most qualified candidate.

Paris said he "was in disbelief" that the department remained silent with the public following Betts' resignation in 2014 and allegations implicating former member Brandon Woods in 2016.

"The LMPD Explorer program was kept open for nearly four years after Paul’s discovery of Betts’ misconduct with a minor were made," the lawsuit says.

When evidence emerged that both the police chief and mayor's office were aware of the allegation, Paris said the administration created a hostile work environment for him.

Paris said he and other officers' names were put on a whiteboard in an LMPD Patrol Division titled "R***gate" in 2017. Paris said officers listed odds for the amount of indictments and acts of sodomy and rape for each person.

The lawsuit says metro government "remained tight lipped" and never advised department members or the public that he had "blown the whistle" on the sex abuse scandal.

Paris said he was subject to interviews with LMPD investigators, told at a roll call with other officers that he was a "pedophile" and frequently scored in the bottom of applicants for positions within the department.

He said that while he does not think he should have been selected for all positions, he "fails to understand why he repeatedly ranked so low in the process."

During this time, Paris said he had also heard members make discriminatory comments calling Black female citizens "Quita" and Black male citizens "Jay" and was thanked for a favorable interaction with a member of the K9 unit's dog because the member thought his dog was "scared of Black people."

When he realized he would find better opportunities elsewhere, Paris said agencies told him that despite his qualifications "the ongoing Explorer investigation" led to him not being selected.

After submitting his resignation in September 2020, Paris was unable to be hired by another agency. The lawsuit says he received notice that a Professional Standards Unit investigation into Paris for a pursuit that did not result in injury or death found he would have been terminated had he still been with LMPD.

The lawsuit says the investigation, closed by former interim LMPD Chief Yvette Gentry, provided no basis nor cited evidence for the conclusion.

"The chief's letter, along with LMPD's failure to ever dispel misinformation that Paul was a participant in the Explorer Scandal, essentially blacklisted Paul from gaining other law enforcement employment," the lawsuit says.

The letter also placed Paris' law enforcement certification in jeopardy. The Kentucky Law Enforcement Council reviewed his situation, in which the lawsuit says an LMPD representative advocated for his certification to be reviewed for revocation.

The KLEC voted not to pursue revocation, with the LMPD representative abstaining from the vote.

In the lawsuit, Paris said he has faced emotional duress, embarrassment and humiliation. He was offered a position with another department in May 2021, where he said he earns far less than what he earned at LMPD.

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