Louisville police chief on paid leave for response to sexual harassment claims

Fresh on the heels of the fiasco in which the Louisville Metro Police Department arrested the world’s top male golfer during the PGA Championship only to drop all charges when they turned out to be unjustified, the long-troubled department is embroiled in another scandal — this one involving its police chief.

In a hastily called news conference Wednesday, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg announced that Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel was placed on paid administrative leave because of how she handled a workplace sexual harassment “allegation involving LMPD officers.”

Greenberg said the allegations didn’t involve Gwinn-Villaroel, but instead how she handled the claims once reported to her.

Mayor Craig Greenberg announces the leave of LMPD Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel and Paul Humphrey as interim chief on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.
Mayor Craig Greenberg announces the leave of LMPD Chief Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel and Paul Humphrey as interim chief on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

Louisville’s NBC affiliate, WAVE 3, reported that the allegations surfaced at a recent meeting of the chief’s command staff.

According to a recording of the meeting obtained and aired in part by the station, the chief called on each of her majors by name to see if there was anyone on the command staff that they could not work with.

Maj. Shannon Lauder responded that she could not work with Maj. Brian Kuriger because he has “sexually harassed me and attacked me, and I cannot work with him.”

One minute later into the meeting, the chief announced she was promoting Kuriger to lieutenant colonel.

“I heard your concerns, and I understand that you cannot. And so, we’ll have to revisit on the status moving forward,” the chief said to Lauder.

Lauder apologized for having to bring up the allegations in the meeting, but said she did not want to be accused later of not mentioning them.

Lauder did not elaborate on her claims against Kuriger, who has been commander of internal investigations for the department.

Greenberg did not specify how long Gwinn-Villaroel would be on leave, or if she would be returning to run the department.

Gwinn-Villaroel was appointed interim chief of LMPD in January 2023 and was named permanent chief in July 2023.

The Louisville Courier Journal previously reported that Gwinn-Villaroel lied when she was a member of the Atlanta Police Department, and was suspended for 20 days — but didn’t disclose that to Louisville officials before they hired her.

WDRB in Louisville reported that Gwinn-Villaroel falsely testified that when when she arrived on the scene of a deadly accident she was not wearing a body camera. A photograph of her at the scene showed that she was wearing a camera.