Kentucky lawmaker Dan Johnson, who has been accused of molesting a member of his church when she was 17, has died, an official mentioned.
Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings mentioned the Republican state consultant – and self-proclaimed “Pope” of his Louisville church – almost certainly killed himself Wednesday. His physique was discovered close to a bridge on Greenwell Ford Highway in Mt. Washington, in a spot known as the River Bottoms. He had a single gunshot wound to his head.
Billings plans to launch extra particulars Thursday after an post-mortem is finished.
Wednesday afternoon, Johnson, 57, once more denied the allegations in opposition to him in a now-deleted Fb put up, including that “I can’t deal with it any longer . . . BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME.”
State leaders from each events had been calling for Johnson’s speedy resignation after the Kentucky Heart for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR) printed an expose Monday detailing allegations of how Johnson woke his daughter’s buddy throughout a sleepover in 2013 and compelled himself on her, slipping his fingers up her shirt and bra and placing his fingers in her vagina.
“What you probably did was past imply, it was evil,” the sufferer mentioned shewrote in a Fb message to him shortly after the incident, in line with KyCIR.
Johnson on Tuesday denied the accusations.
“This allegation regarding this woman, this younger woman, completely has no benefit, these are unfounded accusations, completely,” he mentioned, in line with the Courier-Journal.
The sufferer, now 21, instructed KyCIR that for years she had thought of Johnson to be a “second dad.” She grew to become shut along with his daughter, Sarah, and aware of the boozy weekend events Johnson would throw on the “Pope’s Home” – the fellowship corridor subsequent to the Coronary heart of Hearth Church. These events, KyCIR reported, featured scantily clad girls, physique photographs and costumes.
Within the first hours of 2013, as a New Yr’s Eve celebration got here to an finish, the sufferer, then 17, was spending the evening with Johnson’s daughter within the residence underneath the fellowship corridor, in line with the report. The Submit doesn’t establish victims of sexual assault with out their consent.
Johnson entered, drunk and stumbling, so the sufferer helped him navigate the steps. She thought he was placing his arm round her for stability. Till his hand allegedly slipped up her shirt, KyCIR reported.
The sufferer then wakened later that evening on the couch. She discovered Johnson kneeling above her. She instructed KyCIR that he kissed her brow after which slipped his fingers up her shirt and bra. The report mentioned he groped her, caught his tongue in her mouth and put his fingers in her vagina. She begged him to cease and tried to pressure the person, who weighed twice as a lot as she did, off her with out waking Johnson’s daughter, KyCIR reported.
“He instructed her she’d prefer it. She mentioned no, she did not. She pleaded with him: go away, go away,” KyCIR reported. He finally did.
The KyCIR report highlights how Johnson – recognized in his church neighborhood as “Danny Ray Johnson” – painted an image of himself through the years as a pro-gun, pro-life “patriot,” which helped propel him into the Kentucky legislature in 2016, when he received the Home’s 49th District seat. However the seven-month investigation, comprised of greater than 100 interviews and 1000’s of pages of public data, alleges the Republican’s persona is orchestrated to masks a collection of regarding incidents – together with sexual abuse, arson and false testimony.
Within the wake of the allegations, David Osborne, the performing Kentucky Home speaker, known as the report “compelling and deeply troubling,” in line with the Related Press. Gov. Matt Bevin, R, mentioned he had not learn the report and needed to “wait till we get some information” earlier than commenting.
Bevin mentioned in a tweet Wednesday that he was saddened by the information of Johnson’s dying: Saddened to listen to of tonight’s dying of KY Consultant Dan Johnson. . .My coronary heart breaks for his household tonight. . .These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America. . .Might God certainly shed His grace on us all. . .We certain want it. . .
At a information convention on the church Tuesday alongside household, marketing campaign members and different church members, Johnson acknowledged that the lady accusing him was near the household.
“I do not wish to blast this woman, I’ve quite a lot of compassion for her,” Johnson mentioned. “I am very sorrowful that she’s on this darkish place in her life.”
Johnson couldn’t be instantly reached for remark.
The accusations in opposition to Johnson come as dozens of high-profile males have been fired or have resigned from their jobs in politics, media, leisure and enterprise after going through allegations of sexually harassing or assaulting men and women. They embody Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and broadcaster Charlie Rose. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., each mentioned final week that they would depart Congress over sexual misconduct allegations.
Different Kentucky Home Republicans going through scandal in latest months stay within the state legislature. Former Kentucky Home speaker Jeff Hoover, after admitting he paid to settle a sexual-harassment declare made by a lady in his workplace, resigned from his management place final month however remains to be a state consultant. Three different lawmakers concerned within the secretive settlement had their committee chairmanships taken away from them but in addition nonetheless function representatives.
It isn’t the primary time leaders have known as for Johnson to step down. In 2016, whereas working for workplace, he posted racist pictures on his Fb web page that in contrast President Barack Obama and first woman Michelle Obama to monkeys. He disregarded requires him to drop out of the race – and received.
Throughout Tuesday’s information convention, Johnson mentioned the lady accusing him was motivated by his political opponents, in line with the Courier-Journal. The girl supported Hillary Clinton within the 2016 election, he mentioned, and disagrees along with his conservative stance on abortion rights.
“That is an assault on all actual folks, there isn’t any excellent folks and also you get into workplace and suddenly political hacks come in opposition to you and begin accusing you after you are in workplace,” Johnson mentioned.
He added that there’s a “season” of sexual abuse allegations in politics, referring to the accusations in opposition to President Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. Johnson mentioned he did not suppose all the ladies who’ve spoken out about abuse throughout the nation had been mendacity, nevertheless.
The girl accusing Johnson instructed KyCIR that she by no means returned to the residence under the fellowship corridor. When she did not present as much as the church for service the next Sunday, Johnson allegedly despatched her a Fb message. Within the message, he mentioned his daughter instructed him he had been “imply” to her, the sufferer and his son, Boaz, the evening of the celebration.
“Sarah mentioned I used to be imply to Bo You and Her by telling you all to go to mattress so sorry do not keep in mind I used to be instructed all of us bought drugged at TK’s anyway so sorry if I sounded imply, you understand you might be one in all my favorites, love you sorry! Boaz did Nice Sunday! Your future Husband!” the message learn, in line with KyCIR. TK’s refers to T.Ok.’s Pub, an area bar.
The sufferer responded the subsequent day, and mentioned, in line with KyCIR:
“Drugged or not, I believe you understand what occurred that evening and that is why you are sending this message. I by no means thought one thing like that will occur to me, particularly by somebody such as you. I checked out you as a Dad, however now I sincerely hope I do not see you once more, however I’d attempt to preserve a relationship along with your youngsters. And there’s no level in responding to this message both as a result of I do not wish to speak about it ever once more.”
Louisville Metro police mentioned they closed the case after investigating the allegations, in line with KyCIR.
On Tuesday, Johnson acknowledged that he despatched the sufferer a Fb message shortly after the evening she stayed over, however once more mentioned he didn’t keep in mind what occurred on the evening of the alleged abuse as a result of he was “drugged” on the bar, in line with the Courier-Journal. He mentioned he did not file a police report concerning the alleged drugging as a result of he didn’t wish to deliver accusations in opposition to a bar.
He later mentioned on the information convention that he did recall what occurred on that evening – and mentioned he by no means approached the sufferer whereas she was sleeping, in line with the Courier-Journal.
The KyCIR report additionally detailed different incidents from Johnson’s previous. A grand jury indicted him for complicity to commit arson and making a false police report in 1987, in line with the report, which suggests Johnson might have been linked in one other arson incident 13 years later during which his personal church was burned down.
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