LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A former Louisville Metro Police officer has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing teenagers and asking them for sexual photos.
Kenneth Betts, 34, of Shelbyville, pleaded guilty Thursday.
Prosecutors say the ex-Louisville Metro Police officer met three of four victims through the department's program for teens interested in law enforcement.
Betts was a program adviser, along with former officer Brandon Wood, who's been indicted on similar charges. Wood goes to trial in January.
The department investigated Betts in 2014 over "improper contact" involving a girl.
He resigned that year and was hired at another law enforcement agency.
Betts' sentencing is set for March 2019.
He also is accused of abusing two different people in another case in which he's pleaded not guilty to first- and third-degree sodomy.
That case is ongoing.
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A former Louisville Metro Police Department officer has pleaded guilty before United States District Judge David J. Hale for enticement, attempted enticement, possession of child pornography, transfer of obscene materials to a minor and distribution of child pornography, announced United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman.
“This defendant dishonored the proud badge and uniform of Louisville’s Finest with his perversion and used it to prey on our young people,” stated U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “The Federal Bureau of Prisons awaits the outcome of his sentencing.”
Kenneth R. Betts, 34, of Shelbyville, Kentucky, was charged in an Indictment returned by a federal Grand Jury on November 7, 2018, with one count of distribution of child pornography, one count of possession of child pornography, three counts of enticement of individuals under the age of 18 years to engage in sexual activity, one count of transfer of obscene materials to an individual under the age of 16, and one count of attempted enticement of an individual under the age of 18. All of his criminal conduct occurred in Jefferson County, Kentucky.
According to the Plea Agreement, in or about and between February 2006 and February 2008, Betts communicated with an individual (John Doe 1), who had not attained the age of eighteen years. Betts communicated with John Doe 1 via Facebook and other social media. During those communications, Betts knowingly persuaded, induced, and enticed John Doe 1 to engage in sexual activity, including sharing sexually explicit images with Betts. The resending of such images is sexual activity that constitutes a criminal offense.
On or about May 14, 2014, Betts knowingly distributed child pornography. He sent two of the images referenced above to John Doe 1. Betts transmitted the images to John Doe 1 using Facebook.
Law enforcement officials executed a state search warrant on Betts’ residence on October 13, 2016. Among other things, they seized digital devices – including an external hard drive. Forensic examination of the digital devices revealed Betts’ possession of child pornography. Namely, he possessed the four images he originally requested and received from John Doe 1.
John Doe 2 (Counts 4 and 5). In or about and between May 2010 and May 2014, Betts communicated via the Internet with an individual (John Doe 2), who had not attained the age of eighteen years. The two met and became acquainted through the LMPD Explorers Program. Betts communicated with John Doe 2 via Facebook and other social media platforms. During those communications, Betts knowingly persuaded, induced, and enticed John Doe 2 to engage in sexual activity. The sexual activities included a one-time in-person sexual encounter involving oral sex between Betts and John Doe 2 and repeated requests for sexually explicit images to be shared with Betts. The oral sex and requests for photos are activities for which a person may be prosecuted for a criminal offense.
From May 2010 through May 2012, Betts used a facility and means of interstate commerce to send pictures of himself to John Doe 2. During that time period, Betts knew John Doe 2 had not attained the age of 16 years.
Jane Doe 1 (Count 6) In or about and between June 2013 and July 2013, Betts used a facility and means of interstate commerce, that is, a cellular telephone and its text messaging feature, to communicate with Jane Doe 1. At that point in time, Jane Doe 1 was 16. The two met and became acquainted through the LMPD Explorers Program. During the communications, Betts asked Jane Doe 1 to meet for sexual activity. He also asked Jane Doe 1 for sexually explicit photos, which Jane Doe 1 provided to him. The photos Jane Doe 1 provided constituted a violation of Kentucky law. Law enforcement officials with LMPD observed the images as well as the receipt of those images by Betts. However, the images were destroyed during the initial investigation.
John Doe 3 (Count 7) In or about and between September 2014 and November 2014, Betts used a facility and means of interstate commerce, that is, a cellular telephone, Facebook and SnapChat (a social media platform), to communicate with John Doe 3. At that point in time, John Doe 3 was 17. Betts and John Doe 3 had met and become acquainted through the LMPD Explorers Program. During the communications, Betts asked John Doe 3 to meet for sexual activity. He also asked John Doe 3 for sexually explicit photos. He attempted to persuade, induce, entice, or coerce John Doe 3 to engage in unlawful sexual activity. Betts sent John Doe 3 a photograph of himself wearing an LMPD uniform and in the company of a young woman during some of the communications encouraging a three-way. However, John Doe 3 refused to meet Betts for sexual activity or to send the requested sexually explicit images of himself.
Betts faces no less than 10 years in prison due to statutory mandatory minimum sentencing requirements. The maximum potential sentence is life in prison. The charges also carry a maximum potential fine of $1,750,000.00 and a term of Supervised Release of not less than five years and could be up to a term of life. There is no parole in the federal criminal system. Sentencing has been scheduled for March 18, 2019.
Assistant United States Attorney Jo E. Lawless is prosecuting the case, and it is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Louisville Metro Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit.