Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry and his predecessor Teresa Isaac were sued today for violating Kentucky's Whistleblower Act. The suit was filed by John Vest, the FBI informant in the Fayette County Detention Center prisoner abuse scandal.
The filing describes how Vest approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation early in 2006 to report abuse of prisoners by FCDC employees. The filing states the FBI instructed Vest to covertly collect information for a federal criminal investigation and that he documented "numerous instances of the unauthorized use of force against Detention Center inmates by other Government employees in violation of Kentucky and Federal criminal laws."
The evidence provided by Vest brought dozens of FBI agents to Lexington in October 2006 to raid the Detention Center and seize evidence. After then-Mayor Isaac stated she had personally viewed the hundreds of hours of video and other kinds of evidence in a one-night cram session, she stated no evidence of wrongdoing existed. She and FCDC Director Ronald Bishop stated to the media that Vest was lying to the FBI.
The suit alleges Vest's efforts to seek Whistleblower protection were, at various times, ignored or met with hostility. Jail officials refused Vest's transfer requests to a safe work environment and, in February of this year, sought to terminate Vest's employment. Mayor Newberry, despite his knowledge of Vest's whistleblower status, signed off on it.
The suit alleges Isaac and Newberry are both guilty of official misconduct in the first and second degree, abuse of power, civil rights violations and that Isaac is guilty of slander. Vest requested a jury trial and awarding of compensatory and punitive damages.
Newberry is the current mayor of Lexington and Isaac works for Bruce Lunsford's campaign for governor.