Politics & Government

Investigative file regarding David Williams remains sealed for now

State Senate President David Williams
State Senate President David Williams

FRANKFORT — A Franklin Circuit Court judge has decided to keep records relating to a decade-old attorney general's investigation involving Senate President David Williams sealed for now.

Judge Thomas Wingate ruled Monday during a hearing that records from a 2001 investigation would remain sealed while he reviews them.

Lawyers for the attorney general will submit the file to Wingate and to a lawyer representing an anonymous woman who is suing to keep the records private.

Under the state's Open Records Act, the Herald-Leader asked May 5 for documents regarding any investigations conducted by the attorney general's office of Williams, a Burkesville Republican who is running for governor against incumbent Steve Beshear.

The attorney general's office told the newspaper that anyone involved in any investigations of Williams would be allowed to view the records before they were released.

Stephen Poindexter, a Burkesville lawyer, filed a motion June 17 in Franklin Circuit Court on behalf of "Jane Doe" asking that the investigative file not be released, saying it contained personal and "embarrassing disclosures."

Poindexter argues that his client's privacy interests outweigh the public's right to know. In court filings, Poindexter said his client was involved in a May 2001 attorney general's investigation. He does not disclose the nature of the investigation.

Mitchel Denham, a lawyer with Attorney General Jack Conway's office, agreed Monday to give copies of the file to Wingate and Poindexter. Lawyers then will file briefs arguing whether the documents should be released.

Gregg Hovious, a Louisville lawyer, also attended Monday's hearing. Hovious said he was representing "John Roe," an interested third party. Hovious asked that all motions in the case be sealed. Wingate agreed.

After the hearing Monday, Hovious declined to say whether he was representing Williams, saying repeatedly that he represented "John Roe."

Scott Jennings, a campaign spokesman, said last week that Williams did not intend to intervene in any proceedings in Franklin Circuit Court.

The Herald-Leader reported in October 2002 that Williams, a lawyer, was investigated by the attorney general's office that year after a former client and prisoner wrote to Democratic Gov. Paul Patton asking to be pardoned. It is not clear whether the 2002 investigation is related to the ongoing proceeding in Franklin Circuit Court.

In 2002, a woman alleged that Williams had asked for sexual favors in exchange for legal representation. The matter was forwarded to then-Attorney General Ben Chandler's office, which determined there was no criminal wrongdoing. Chandler's office forwarded the matter to the Kentucky Bar Association.

At the time, Williams denied he had any sexual relations with the woman and said he had full documentation to prove he had been paid to represent the woman. Williams also provided The Courier-Journal of Louisville with a recorded telephone conversation between him and the woman in which she acknowledges to Williams that "no, we've never had a sexual relationship," the newspaper reported.

Williams also questioned why the document was released in light of Patton's adulterous affair with a nursing home operator, a scandal that had consumed Frankfort at the time.

The Kentucky Bar Association has never publicly reprimanded Williams for any reason.