CJ: Judges slammed for blocking drivers from Louisville traffic school

, Louisville Courier JournalPublished 12:44 p.m. ET May 25, 2018 | Updated 2:20 p.m. ET May 25, 2018

Two Kentucky district court judges illegally refused to let motorists participate in the Jefferson County attorney’s traffic school, the Kentucky Court of Appeals said in affirming a lower court ruling.

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The court in a 3-0 ruling Friday upheld an opinion by Jefferson Circuit Judge McKay Chauvin that District Judges Sean Delahanty and Stephanie Pearce Burke improperly blocked alleged traffic scofflaws from Drive Safe Louisville.

The ruling is a victory for Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, one of many county attorneys who launched their own traffic programs to raise revenue for their offices under a law enacted by the General Assembly in 2012. The program allows drivers charged with any of 17 moving violations to get their citation dismissed with no points assessed if they pay a fee, now $179, and take a two-hour online class.

Delahanty has derided the program as a “glorified speed trap.” He and Burke barred defendants in their courts from participating, saying the program skirts judicial oversight and invades the power of the courts. Burke maintained it is a conflict of interest for the county attorney’s office to make money as a result of decisions not to prosecute.

But the Court of Appeals found that Delahanty committed an error of “grave magnitude” when he declared the the traffic school law unconstitutional without giving the county attorney’s office and the attorney general a meaningful chance to defend it.

“The County Attorney was deprived of the most basic tenets of due process in the district court proceedings,” the court said.

Delahanty and Burke could ask the state Supreme Court to hear the case; Delahanty declined to comment while Burke couldn’t be reached for comment.

The three-judge panel declined to address the constitutionality of the law itself.

In a statement, O’Connell said the ruling is “an affirmation that wildly erroneous decisions cannot be tolerated and that all litigants are entitled to fair, and due, process.”

He also noted that 95 of 120 county attorneys operate traffic school programs and that they help pay for the operation of such offices when state budgets are tight.

The $179 fee collected in Jefferson County is divided four ways: $80 to O’Connell’s office; $44 goes to a private vendor; $25 to the Administrative Office of the Courts; and $30 to the state.

Nearly 25,000 defendants had gone through Drive Safe Louisville as last October, generating about $4 million, according to Josh Abner, a county attorney’s office spokesman. About $1.9 million went to the office; about $1.2 million to PSI KY, the vendor; $621,000 to the court; and $325,250 to state and local governments and other causes.

Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; awolfson@courier-journal.com;

FOXNews.com Kentucky politician’s staffers forced to make campaign donations, ex-employees claim

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By Andrew Keiper

Published May 21, 2018
FoxNews.com
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A Kentucky politician has drawn the ire of his subordinates for his quick temper and expectation of political support from employees in the form of their cash. These contributions, according to some, are the product of a pattern of coercion and retribution that is unethical and a “blatant violation of the law.”

Four former employees of Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell have described to Fox News a culture of duress in O’Connell’s office, where they witnessed him consulting donor lists before considering employees for promotions.

Glenda Bradshaw, a high-ranking former prosecutor in the office, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against O’Connell after she was fired, claiming in the suit that some employees donate to his campaign out of fear of “his wrath.”

All employees who spoke to Fox News detailed similar expectations of loyalty to the Democrat in the form of cash or check.

In an emailed statement responding to this article O’Connell said through a spokesperson: “I am thankful for the campaign support I have received from all walks of our community. I am humbled that some of my staff have supported my re-election because they know firsthand the good work we perform daily.”

Before his 2008 appointment to the position, O’Connell served as both a district and circuit court judge in Kentucky.

Kara Lewis, a former attorney in O’Connell’s office, claims she was fired for no reason beyond her refusal to contribute to O’Connell’s campaign. Her firing, during which she was pulled from a courtroom and told she would no longer be working cases, threw her family’s plans into tumult and doubt.

“It affected my career, it affected my family,” Lewis said. “It had a horrible effect on my life. … It had a horrible impact on us financially.”

“When he was interviewing me, he would have already seen that I was not on any contribution lists.”

– Kara Lewis
Lewis was terminated one month after O’Connell’s re-election in 2010 after working five years in the office. At the time, she and her husband Todd were looking for houses and thinking about having children.

“I never had any sort of disciplinary things,” she said. “I was a good prosecutor and they gave me no reason. They gave me no explanation, no nothing. Just, ‘you’re not being rehired.’”

In the prior months, Lewis had applied for a supervisory role in the office. She said O’Connell was “openly hostile” during the interview; she believes her refusal to donate was a deciding factor in his decision to deny her the role.

“Before every interview he was going to his secretary and asking to see the contribution list,” Lewis said. “When he was interviewing me, he would have already seen that I was not on any contribution lists.”

The couple decided shortly after O’Connell’s appointment to the position that they would not donate. At the time, Lewis’ husband Todd was involved in enforcing campaign finance laws for former Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, and he believed O’Connell’s practices would eventually draw the eye of state or federal authorities.

“We believed, and still believe, that it is illegal for him to coerce campaign donations,” she said. “We fully expected that at some point he would be prosecuted for that because it was such a blatant violation of the law.”

After his wife was fired, Todd Lewis said he took his concerns about O’Connell’s actions to both the FBI and his employer. His proximity to the case would keep him from prosecuting the county attorney, but he felt someone should. Conway told him that his family and O’Connell’s were longtime political allies. No action was ever taken by the highest legal office in the state.

Despite multiple attempts, Conway could not be reached for comment.

O’Connell’s employees have proved to be a lucrative and constant source of cash for his political ambitions over the past decade.

In 2010, the first year the Democrat ran for re-election, his employees amassed $45,018.45 on 103 individual contributions. That represented 30 percent of the total $149,278.68 he pulled in for the primary race, according to campaign finance records.

“It’s illegal for Metro employees to be shaken down. The grey area is that all the laws talk about state and city employees. Mike’s office is a county office.”

Brent Ackerson
The total dollar amount given by his employees dropped to just under $27,000 in 2014. However, the 95 individual donations from them made up 65 percent of the 147 donations included in the filing. O’Connell raised $230,815.03 for the successful re-election.

This year, the silver-haired politician has amassed a campaign war chest of $309,118.13 for his primary battle against local attorney Brent Ackerson. O’Connell returned to the well again, and his employees contributed $45,616.96 — about 14 percent of that total. They provided the majority of individual donations to the campaign. Of the 189 total donations, members of the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office gave 98, or nearly 52 percent.

As is the case with most incumbent politicians, the remaining balance from one race rolls over into a general campaign fund for the next election cycle.

Ackerson has consistently called O’Connell’s campaign finance practices out in local debates. The attorney also sits on the Louisville Metro Council, and has two years left on his term. He said O’Connell’s actions are certainly unethical, if not illegal.

“It’s illegal for Metro employees to be shaken down,” Ackerson said. “The grey area is that all the laws talk about state and city employees. Mike’s office is a county office.”

For his campaign, Ackerson has accumulated a touch more than $28,000, which includes a $10,000 donation to himself. O’Connell’s employees have outraised him nearly two to one.

Joshua Douglas, a campaign finance expert who is a law professor at the University of Kentucky, said officials can’t require their employees to contribute, but there’s nothing necessarily illegal about a culture of contribution.

“It’s not surprising to me that the people that work for him and presumably support him by working for him would choose to make contributions to his campaign,” Douglas said. “… The devil is in the details, and the question for me is: What are the actual facts?”

O’Connell is a county politician and the rules of the Executive Branch Ethics Commission, which has jurisdiction over state officials, aren’t necessarily the same.

“We hope that the ethics commission on the state level, our conduct would be a gold standard for the counties to follow, but there’s nothing that requires them to follow the same standard we do,” Kathryn Gabhart, executive director of the commission, said.

Although she doesn’t oversee county officials, she said each county is mandated by state law to develop its own code of ethics and review commission. Dana Nickles, council to the Jefferson County Ethics Commission, refused to comment on whether O’Connell’s alleged actions constituted an ethics violation.

However, the county commission’s guidelines state: “No Metro Officer or candidate seeking an office covered by this chapter shall compel any subordinate to participate in an election campaign or ballot referendum, or make a political contribution.”

Additionally, two provisions in the Kentucky Revised Code directly address campaign contributions from an official’s employees. One bars the coercion of votes or donations from state or federal employees. The other states that “no person shall coerce or direct any employee” to vote or contribute to campaigns.

Each law specifically mentions coercion by way of threatening or termination of employment.

Another former employee of O’Connell’s, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, said the politician’s behavior was a product of the “old-school attorney way.”

“I’m just afraid of the repercussions that would come if he found out that I gave you this information,” the former employee said.

The individual, who was an attorney in the civil division of the office, said O’Connell fostered an anxiety among his employees through his frequent angry outbursts and constant bean counting of his employee’s political contributions.

“I would say there was somewhat a culture of fear,” the former employee said. “You wanted to make sure you didn’t piss Mike off. … It was pretty common knowledge that if you didn’t contribute then they knew about it.”

Fox News has confirmed via campaign finance records that the employee did, in fact, donate to O’Connell at least once. That person said the contributions can take a financial toll, especially on younger staffers who are still climbing the compensatory ladder.

“I didn’t want to be blacklisted or called out for not having contributed,” the former staffer said. “I feared whatever the repercussions were if you didn’t contribute.”

Glenda Bradshaw, who worked in state government for 32 years before she was fired by O’Connell, filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the county attorney in 2010. In the suit, which was eventually dropped, she alleged that O’Connell was “well known to summon the campaign contribution list” when considering employees for promotions and raises. Her lawsuit seemingly corroborates Lewis’ allegations.

“It was a very unpleasant experience,” she said. “… On at least one occasion I witnessed him looking at the list prior to interviewing candidates to be made supervisor.”

Karl Price is another former employee who told Fox News about O’Connell’s anger and expectations of political loyalty. He was hired in 1992 and left in 2015 amid allegations of ethical misconduct in his private practice. Price refused to admit to ethical violations, instead leaving O’Connell’s office to focus full time on his private practice.

“Tense, if you want a single word. It was tense,” Price said. “… Generally I kept my distance, but it was not unusual to hear screaming on that side of the office, and everybody knew that was Mike’s voice.”

O’Connell, who is seeking a third term, would regularly send his employees campaign fundraising literature in the mail, and his secretary would needle people who didn’t act on those flyers. Price said the expected donation was around $200.

Campaign finance records show that Price donated at least $550 to O’Connell between 2011 and 2013.

“My opinion, most of the people felt that it was unethical behavior,” he said. “But their general disposition was they didn’t want to lose their job.”

source: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/05/21/kentucky-politicians-staffers-forced-to-make-campaign-donations-ex-employees-claim.html

CJ: County attorney sued for ‘sexual predator’ remark before Democratic primary

County Attorney Mike O’Connell is being sued for defamation after he called developer and critic Chris Thieneman a “sexual predator.”

Thieneman “is a sexual predator, he was convicted of trying to strangle his then-girlfriend,” O’Connell said in a speech this month at Jefferson Square Park. “And the women in this community should be wary and be prepared to not come in contact with him, ever.”

Thieneman filed the lawsuit in Jefferson County Court on Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges that O’Connell made his comments on May 1 at the Celebration of Law Day event at the downtown park, which is near the Hall of Justice.

“He is a danger to this community, and to the women in this community, and each one should make sure they take every precaution to protect themselves,” O’Connell said, according to the lawsuit.

Claims made in a lawsuit represent only one side of the case.

Thieneman was charged in September 2013 after he was accused of struggling over a cell phone with his ex-girlfriend and then trying to strangle her.

He was acquitted in April of 2016 of misdemeanor assault, but he was fined $500 on the charge of wanton endangerment, a misdemeanor.

Thieneman said that when he heard about O’Connell’s comments, he thought, “There’s no way this is happening.”

O’Connell said in a statement to Courier Journal that Thieneman’s attack is “without merit and is politically motivated” and again recalled his domestic violence incident.

“Chris Thieneman is a convicted domestic violence perpetrator,” O’Connell said. “I am not intimidated by this classic domestic violence bullying tactic, and I wear this lawsuit as a badge of honor for the thousands of domestic violence victims that our office helps every year.”

O’Connell, who is running for re-election and is on the ballot in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, has been criticized for his response to lawsuits alleging sexual abuse in the police’s Explorer Scout program, which is for youths interested in law enforcement careers.

“The timing is not lost on anyone either in light of the fact that this offender has actively worked against me since his conviction and is promoting my opponent,” O’Connell added.

Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, who is taking on O’Connell in Tuesday’s primary, has aired an online ad that scolds O’Connell for arguing to release the names of Scouts who claim they were abused in the program.

O’Connell, who represents the city in civil matters, said last year that for fairness, plaintiffs should also be identified because the police officers accused of wrongdoing are mentioned by name.

Thieneman, who has been critical of the city response to the allegations, has helped organize trucks plastered with anti-O’Connell signs.

Read this: Moved by their son’s journey, this family gave $1M to foster care kids

Thieneman played football for the University of Louisville and later in the World League of American Football and the Canadian Football League before taking over his family real estate business, then starting his own development company.

He ran unsuccessfully for Jefferson County clerk in 2002, U.S. Congress in 2008 and Louisville mayor in 2010. He was defeated by incumbent Democrat Perry Clark in 2012 in a state Senate race.

In the congressional race, he faced U.S. Rep. Anne Northup in the GOP primary before dropping out and angrily accusing GOP leaders — including Northup and U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell — of conspiring against him.

Thieneman also led a drive in 2007 to defeat a local occupational tax increase that would have benefited the public library system.

WDRB: O’Connell, Ackerson trade barbs in spirited race for Jefferson County attorney

Posted: May 17, 2018 5:29 PM EDTUpdated: May 18, 2018 7:31 AM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Veiled racism. Allegations of covering up the sexual abuse of teens by Louisville Metro Police. Forcing employees to make campaign contributions – or be fired.

These are few of the political haymakers thrown in an unusually fiery Democratic primary for Jefferson County attorney – a race that will likely determine who will advise Metro government and represents it in civil lawsuits No Republicans have filed to run, meaning only a write-in candidate could challenge the winner of the May 22 election.

Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson hasn’t pulled any punches against the incumbent, Mike O’Connell, accusing him of pressuring employees to help fund his campaign and noting that O’Connell initially said he wanted the alleged victims of sexual abuse in theLouisville Metro Police Explorer scandal to be publicly named.

“He thought it was only appropriate if the officers were named (in lawsuits), these officers who committed heinous rape of children were named, he thought these victims, because they are over the age of 18 — now their names should also be out there,” Ackerson said at a Louisville Forum debate with O’Connell in April.

Ackerson, who was elected to the council in 2008, has also implied that O’Connell may be protecting community leaders who knew of the police sexual abuse scandal and could have stopped it earlier.

“It appears to me there’s been a cover-up; the question is  just how high up does it go?” Ackerson said in an interview with WDRB News. “When people were investigating in 2013, are you telling me there was no legal advice on how to potentially deal with this? There’s concern there, I mean, how much knowledge did the county attorney’s office have?”

O’Connell has fired back, insinuating race was a factor when Ackerson was the only council Democrat to vote against appointing University of Louisville professor Ricky L. Jones to a citizen’s police accountability board in May.

“Your vote was embarrassing and shameful and I trust that something like that will never happen again,” O’Connell told Ackerson at the April 12 forum. “But it seems to be consistent with some of your votes on council.”

And on Jones’ radio show earlier this year, O’Connell suggested that Ackerson purposefully chose in 2006 – while a registered Republican – to run for a judicial seat against two black women.

In addition, O’Connell who was appointed in 2008 and has won election twice since, has also questioned Ackerson’s lack of experience in the courts, noting he has not been a judge or a prosecutor, and whether he has been an effective council member.

“I’m not sure what legislation he has ever proposed of note in the eight or ten years he has been on council,” O’Connell said at the Louisville forum.

Ackerson said his vote had nothing to do with Jones being black. He said he did not “feel that it was the right appointment at that time.”

“I know that might have upset Dr. Jones,” Ackerson said at the Louisville Forum. “I told him that night, explained my position on the record, and then went to him afterward, shook his hand, told him it wasn’t anything personal and congratulated him on his victory.”

As county attorney, O’Connell is representing the city in six lawsuits filed by alleged victims of sexual abuse by Louisville police officers over several years in a youth mentoring program. After a hearing last year on whether the alleged sexual assault victim should be identified in the first lawsuit – currently the plaintiff is known only by the initials “N.C.” – O’Connell told reporters “it is not fair” for police to be named but not the former Explorer.

“The playing field needs to be level,” O’Connell said at the time.

O’Connell said he “misspoke” and hours later issued a statement saying he doesn’t want the alleged assault victims to be identified. He said it’s up to a judge to decide whether the alleged victims should be named in the lawsuits against police and the city.

“Now he might have, after the fact, publicly changed his position, after he got back to the office and everyone said, ‘Mike what the heck did you just say?’ I can’t believe that you believe that,” Ackerson said. “It’s one thing to retract a position, it’s what you say and those are his words.”

And Ackerson said county attorney employees have complained that they have felt their jobs were in jeopardy if they do not donate to O’Connell’s campaigns.  Ackerson said, if elected, he will not allow employees to donate to any of his future county attorney campaigns.

In response, O’Connell said he does not pressure employees to donate to his campaign and is “honored” they have enough faith in him to “choose to give.”

“I’m honored that they do that and I’m going to continue to do that if they wish to give,” he said at the Louisville Forum.

Funding imbalance

The county attorney’s office represents the city in civil litigation, handles traffic cases and prosecutes misdemeanor, juvenile and child support crimes.

Based on campaign contributions and spending, the race is not even close. O’Connell has collected $387,735 and spent $106,995, according to the most recent reports from the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.

Ackerson, meanwhile, has raised only about $28,000 and spent $6,300.

Through his position on the council, Ackerson is likely more well known than O’Connell’s last primary opponent, Karen Faulkner, whom O’Connell also held a sizable fundraising edge.

Faulkner garnered 45 percent of the vote in 2014. She said at the time that “obviously” a lot of voters “do not affirm his work over the last six years and in fact sought for a change.”

As a city council member for a decade, Ackerson arguably has higher name recognition than Faulkner.  Ackerson has said O’Connell is “trying to buy this race” and vowed to outwork him by getting out in the community and meeting face to face with voters as much as possible.

“It’s going to be close,” said Ackerson, an attorney who specializes in civil litigation.

In addition, O’Connell has a long history of scuffling with local lawyers and judges. He has been criticized for launching an office traffic school that allows traffic offenders to avoid court costs by taking an online course, with the bulk of the proceeds going to the county attorney’s office.

Other county attorneys across the state run similar programs and O’Connell notes the funding helps the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies.

O’Connell, a Louisville native and St. X graduate, has touted his experience:  He served as a district court judge from 1980 to 1987 and on the circuit bench from 1987 to 1990. He has run the county attorney’s office – with about 350 employees – for more than a decade now, winning state county attorney of the year award in Kentucky last year.

And he was key in helping to implement a veterans’ treatment court, a restorative justice program in juvenile court that helps victims and defendants work cases out without jail time and ending a practice in which defense attorneys could call judges and get them to set aside arrest warrants without any input from prosecutors.

But Ackerson said the system needs someone from the outside to take a fresh look at issues, including reducing jail overcrowding and “locking people up for stupid reasons.”

“Are things getting better or things getting worse?” Ackerson said, referencing the growing murder rate and drug addiction.  “Things are getting worse.”

He also noted inmates are consistently being incarcerated in an illegal 1950s era jail above Louisville Metro Police Headquarters because Metro Corrections is too crowded – at a cost of about $4 million a year.

“What we’re trying is not working,” Ackerson said. “It’s time for new approaches from this office.”

But O’Connell said he deserves another term.

“If someone is doing a good job, dealt with issues, created initiatives, done things that are helpful for the community, then the voters have to judge whether that counts for something,” O’Connell said in an interview with WDRB News. :To just come in and say we need a change … is just bogus.”

Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All rights reserved

CJ: Sex abuse victim scolds Louisville prosecutor for wanting to name names

Phillip M. Bailey, Louisville Courier Journal Published 11:57 a.m. ET May 8, 2018 | Updated 2:14 p.m. ET May 8, 2018

A woman who is nationally recognized for speaking up on behalf of survivors of sexual abuse is calling out Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell for his response to allegations of sex abuse in a Louisville police youth program.

Katya Estes appears in an online campaign ad paid for by Metro Councilman Brent Ackerson, who is taking on O’Connell in the May 22 Democratic primary. In it, she said she is “outraged” by the county attorney’s argument to release the names of Scouts who claim they were abused in the police department’s Explorer program.

O’Connell, who represents the city in civil matters, said last year that for fairness, plaintiffs should also be identified because the police officers accused of wrongdoing are mentioned by name.

Read this: Special investigation into how Louisville cops handled Explorer sex abuse case is complete

Estes said in the ad that O’Connell was “trying to exploit” the former Scouts, who participated in a program for teens interested in law enforcement that was offered by police and the Boy Scouts of America.

In an interview with Courier Journal on Tuesday, Estes said: “In my experience it’s very delicate and it’s important to have a sense of control over what’s happening with your truth. And it’s not Mr. O’Connell’s place to say that he wanted to release the names.”

The O’Connell campaign did not make the county attorney available for a comment but released a statement saying his “commitment to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault is obvious.”

It also cited that O’Connell has created a specialized unit that handle similar cases and that the Center for Women and Families, which provides shelter and services in domestic violence and sexual assault cases, honored O’Connell last year with its community service award.

Ackerson told Courier Journal on Tuesday that O’Connell’s campaign is dodging the issue but can’t ignore his words “defending police rape” last year that the councilman said stood in the way of the accusers seeking justice.

Estes gained notoriety in Louisville when she was awarded $10 million in damages two years ago after a jury found her grandfather guilty of rape and sexual assault. In 2016, she won an award from the National Children’s Alliance for her work at the Family and Children’s Place, which has four offices across the Louisville region.

Estes said she appeared in the online political ad to stick up for the accusers in the Explorer case.

“The youth in this case, I don’t know who they are, but they don’t have a voice,” she said. “… The fact that (O’Connell) wanted to release the names is inappropriate.”

The Ackerson ad highlights O’Connell’s remarks to reporters last year when he said a former Scout should not be allowed to remain anonymous when filing a civil lawsuit against two former officers, who also face criminal charges over the allegations in the Explorer program.

Besides Estes, the ad uses TV clips from a WAVE 3 story and a debate between the two political rivals at the Louisville Forum. During that debate, Ackerson told audience members that O’Connell clearly wanted to reveal the accusers’ names and only reversed his position after a backlash.

“What happened in this town makes me ashamed, it should make all of us ashamed,” Ackerson said. “Kids were hurt.”

Read this: County attorney accused of ‘political stunt,’ he says 2 councilmen are breaking the law

O’Connell argued last year that the law was on the side of the city and the defendants.

“The playing field needs to be leveled,” O’Connell said after a Jefferson Circuit Court hearing on a Courier Journal motion to open a lawsuit filed by a former Scout identified only as N.C. who claimed he was sexually abused by two officers and that the police concealed it.

But O’Connell backpedaled that same day, saying that neither he nor Mayor Greg Fischer wanted to reveal former Explorer Scouts’ names. He said in a statement that his office works “tirelessly every day in the support of victims of sexual assault.”

Courier Journal, which typically does not name victims of sexual abuse in criminal cases, sought to unseal the case to have access to any additional filings made in the case, not for the purpose of identifying any plaintiff.

Since last year six civil suits have been filed alleging abuse or harassment by police officers in the Youth Explorer program. Five of those cases name either former police officers Kenneth Betts or Brandon Wood as defendants.

The latest suit, filed by a former Scout identified only as E.B., claims the program became a “sexually hostile environment” after Betts repeatedly asked the Scouts to send or accept nude photographs.

The suits also names as a defendant former Maj. Curtis Flaherty, who led the program as a lieutenant, alleging he was part of a cover-up.

All three have denied wrongdoing.

In another lawsuit, a former Scout identified only as B.L. claims Officer Brad Schuhmann manipulated her into having sex when she was under age 16.

Schuhmann, who was an adviser in the Explorer program, has been put on desk duty with his police powers suspended pending the completion of an internal investigation, though the police have declined to detail the nature of that inquiry.

O’Connell and Ackerson are scheduled to debate at an event hosted by the Metro Democratic Club at 7 p.m. inside the Keneseth Israel Congregation, 2531 Taylorsville Road.

Reporter Phillip M. Bailey can be reached at 502-582-4475 or pbailey@courierjournal.com. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/philb.

https://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/2018/05/08/louisville-police-sex-abuse-scandal-jefferson-county-attorney-primary-explorer-scouts/589569002/

O’Connell Makes Questionable Statement About Detractor. Is This A Personal Vendetta or Protecting the Public?

Chris Thieneman is not working for or with any political campaign involved in the County Attorney Primary Election 2018, he is also not a candidate for office. Which makes it odd that Mike O’Connell so aggressively discusses Mr. Thieneman during the last months of the election.

Before listening to the partial statement it is important to understand the following facts which have sources listed at this bottom of this post.

Chris Thieneman is currently a vocal detractor of O’Connell and is suing O’Connell’s office for malicious prosecution. Thieneman was recently found NOT GUILTY of the most serious charge against him brought by an ex-girlfriend. Thieneman faced the possibility of a prison sentence had he been convicted on a charge of assault. The jury found him guilty of wanton endangerment and fined him $500. He is also suing the City of Louisville and the LMPD.

Chris Thieneman has released videos on Youtube calling for Louisville to “Vote Out O’Connell.” He has also begun to park a truck in front of the courthouse that includes that statement painted on it’s side. Thieneman has attended multiple County Attorney debates and recorded the candidates speaking. Each candidate also has campaign members recording the debates.

In May of 2018 Mike O’Connell warns an audience that Thieneman “is a sexual predator, he is convicted of trying to strangle his then girl-friend. And the women in this community should be wary and be prepared to not come in contact with him ever. He is a danger to this community.” He goes on to make further claims that may not be supported by the court records.

Screen Shot 2018-05-05 at 2.49.41 PM

Sources: http://louisvilleky.com/chris-thieneman-is-not-guilty-of-assault-charge/

 

Is Mike O’Connell’s ability to serve justice in Louisville unbiased? Has he within an official capacity of his office made misleading statements, recommended citizens protect themselves from if they come into contact with Thieneman motivated by a personal feud or a public interest?

Ackerson responds to O’Connell’s handling of Explorer Sex Abuse Case

O’Connell makes an outrageous statement that Brent Ackerson responds too. In a debate O’Connell claims he cares about victims and then goes way off topic accusing everyone around him of greed. Ackerson recenters the topic and says what he would do as County Attorney.

It is worth noting that since O’Connell made this statement additional minors have come forward, the FBI is investigating a cover up and the program has been suspended.

Nearly 400 died of a drug overdose in Louisville last year, with 64 percent involving fentanyl

Nearly 400 people died of an accidental drug overdose in Louisville last year, with 64 percent of those fatalities involving the powerful opioid fentanyl, according to records from the Jefferson County Coroner’s office.

This amounts to yet another record-high total of fatal drug overdoses for Louisville, as the city continues to be hit hard by the national opioid epidemic that has shifted from prescription painkillers, to heroin, and now to fentanyl — the drug that was largely unheard of just a few years ago.

According to the records of the local coroner, their office has documented 396 cases of accidental drug overdoses in 2017, with lab results showing that fentanyl or fentanyl analogs were involved in 253 of those deaths.

These numbers are likely to increase even further, as their office still has open cases from the month of December that will not be closed until the lab results are completed.

The total numbers of deaths last year amounted to a 22.5 percent increase from Louisville’s previous record set in 2016, when the coroner’s office recorded 324 overdose deaths. The total from 2016 was a 56 percent increase from the 220 overdose deaths in 2015.

The pace of increase in the number of fatal overdose cases involving fentanyl has been even higher, as it was only found in 26 individuals during 2015. That total increased by over five times in 2016 to 139, and then increased by another 83 percent last year — a nearly tenfold increase over just two years.

Statistics compiled from Jefferson County Coroner data

While fatal overdoses involving fentanyl have surged, the number that involve heroin has actually declined in this period. In 2015, 46 percent of the fatal overdoses involved heroin (102), while those figures decreased in 2016 and then again in 2017, when only 75 involved heroin — just 19 percent of all cases.

Despite that decrease, as well as the decrease of prescription opioids, over 87 percent of all accidental drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved some type of opioid, with just 50 cases having no opioid detected in their system.

Statistics compiled from Jefferson County Coroner data

One drug that has surged in Louisville is gabapentin, a non-opioid prescription painkiller that has been increasingly abused. While gabapentin was present in only four fatal overdose cases in 2015, that total increased to 25 in 2016 and 92 last year, surpassing heroin.

While gabapentin was now prevalent in more of these fatalities, the much more potent and deadly fentanyl was present in over two-thirds of these same cases.

When examining the monthly totals of fatal overdoses, the record amount in 2017 was clearly driven by the local epidemic’s peak in January and February of that year. After the record 65 fatalities in February, Louisville’s monthly totals averaged roughly half of that amount for the rest of the year — though still remarkably high.

The 40 overdose deaths in August were still the sixth-highest monthly total over the last three years.

Statistics compiled from Jefferson County Coroner data

The coroner’s records show that 18 of the fatal overdose victims in 2017 were homeless and 45 lived outside of Jefferson County, though most of those people lived in neighboring counties. Over 64 percent of the victims were male.

In 2017, 2,454 patients received a dose of naloxone — the drug used to revive those who have overdosed on naloxone — from a first responder on a Louisville EMS overdose run. That amount surpassed the previous year’s record, as did the department’s 7,651 total overdose runs.

Asked to comment about the alarming fatal overdose statistics from 2017, Mayor Greg Fischer issued an emailed statement noting that Louisville is not alone in cities “dealing with a devastating opioid epidemic.”

“Experts have called it the worst drug crisis in American history,” said Fischer. “Far too many people have died, and far too many lives have been destroyed. Addressing this crisis is a priority for Louisville Metro Government and our community as a whole.”

Fischer added that the Department of Public Health and Wellness “has been working with experts to develop a two-year action plan to help us address substance use disorder in Louisville. We’ll be announcing details of that report later this month.”

Nationally, drug overdose fatalities steadily increased since 2000, but shot upward in recent yearswith the rise of heroin. In 2016, they increased even higher with the emergence of fentanyl, as over 20,000 of the 64,000 fatal drug overdoses that year involved such synthetic opioids.

The number of overdose deaths involving fentanyl nearly doubled to 10,000 in 2015, and then doubled again to 20,145 in 2016. The federal Center for Disease Control and National Institute on Drug Abuse have not yet complied the national overdose figures for 2017, which are usually released in the summer.

Graph via National Institute on Drug Abuse using CDC statistics

https://insiderlouisville.com/health/drug-epidemic/nearly-400-died-of-a-drug-overdose-in-louisville-last-year-with-64-percent-involving-fentanyl/

Louisville crime sinks rating to 61st Best Place to Live

 

Louisville once described as the sixteen largest city in the United States is now ranked sixty first best place to live. Rising crime and violence plaguing the city is certain to diminish already meager corporate investment and exacerbate the cities continuing decline in talent.

Louisville was bested by all of the large areas around it including Lexington, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Nashville.

Louisville’s criminal justice system continues to demonstrate a lack of competency with years of jailing their way out of crime having failed. Now the city faces rising crime but an over populated city’s jail system with many non violent addicts making the jail the largest detox center in Kentucky, while putting people accused of murder on home incarceration. The number of unserved warrants, revoked probation and assaults sky rocks.

Mike O’Connell Jefferson County Attorney had stated he felt there was no need for change and promised to “stay the course” after his narrow re-election victory in 2014.  The past four years have continued Louisville’s descent beyond the national averages.  Louisville has a chance at changing the system on May 22, 2018 where O’Connell is challenged for the role of County Attorney. Even with the city descending into hell the challenger appears as underdog.

 Good luck Louisville!

95% of American Cities Safer than Louisville!

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With a crime rate of 54 per one thousand residents, Louisville has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 19. Within Kentucky, more than 97% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Louisville.

Importantly, when you compare Louisville to other communities of similar population, then Louisville crime rate (violent and property crimes combined) is quite a bit higher than average. Regardless of how Louisville does relative to all communities in America of all sizes, when NeighborhoodScout compared it to communities of similar population size, its crime rate per thousand residents stands out as higher than most.

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Now let us turn to take a look at how Louisville does for violent crimes specifically, and then how it does for property crimes. This is important because the overall crime rate can be further illuminated by understanding if violent crime or property crimes (or both) are the major contributors to the general rate of crime in Louisville.

For Louisville, we found that the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation, across communities of all sizes (both large and small). Violent offenses tracked included rape, murder and non-negligent manslaughter, armed robbery, and aggravated assault, including assault with a deadly weapon. According to NeighborhoodScout’s analysis of FBI reported crime data, your chance of becoming a victim of one of these crimes in Louisville is one in 136.

In addition, NeighborhoodScout found that a lot of the crime that takes place in Louisville is property crime. Property crimes that are tracked for this analysis are burglary, larceny over fifty dollars, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In Louisville, your chance of becoming a victim of a property crime is one in 21, which is a rate of 47 per one thousand population.

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Importantly, we found that Louisville has one of the highest rates of motor vehicle theft in the nation according to our analysis of FBI crime data. This is compared to communities of all sizes, from the smallest to the largest. In fact, your chance of getting your car stolen if you live in Louisville is one in 143.

https://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ky/louisville/crime