Dan Johnson suicide: Kentucky Republican, accused of molesting a teenager, shot himself in the head
LOUISVILLE — Dan Johnson posted a ultimate concept on Fb to his mates and spouse and children Wednesday afternoon. It appeared to be a goodbye.
In it, he denied the accusations that had tormented him and his spouse and children for the earlier 48 hrs — that he, a Kentucky condition consultant and the self-proclaimed “Pope” of his Louisville church — experienced gotten drunk and molested a 17-12 months-previous lady throughout a sleepover at the church several years back.
“GOD is familiar with the truth, nothing at all is the way they make it out to be,” he wrote in the due to the fact-deleted submit. “I can’t manage it any extended . . . BUT HEAVEN IS MY Dwelling.”
Johnson then drove to a graffiti-included bridge outside of Mount Washington, Ky., a silent and isolated location called the River Bottoms. He parked, got out of his vehicle, and shot himself with a .40-caliber handgun, in accordance to Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell.
The clear suicide of a nicely-acknowledged nearby Republican here was another dim and spectacular transform in the nation’s latest reckoning with sexual assault and harassment, with in the vicinity of-everyday revelations about highly effective gentlemen leading to sudden falls from positions of electricity in amusement, company, the media and politics. Lots of of those people situations have led to denials, resignations, apologies while Johnson denied the allegations, some think they pushed him around the edge.
The bridge outside Mount Washington, Ky., the place authorities observed lawmaker Dan Johnson’s human body on Wednesday, two times just after allegations surfaced that he experienced molested a member of his church when she was 17 several years previous, officials reported. (James Higdon for The Washington Write-up)
Johnson’s wife, Rebecca, announced Thursday that she options to switch him in the condition legislature. She spent the working day at a funeral house arranging her husband’s assistance, consoling her family members and continuing to do what she does very best — fighting for her spouse and children, said David Adams, a spouse and children pal and spokesman.
“Dan is long gone but the tale of his life is significantly from around,” Rebecca Johnson reported via Adams. “These high-tech lynchings primarily based on lies and half-truths just cannot be permitted to earn the working day. I have been fighting behind my spouse for 30 several years and his struggle will go on.”
Johnson’s loss of life shook his spouse and children, mates, constituents and customers of his church, with Kentucky’s political elite instantly expressing their sadness. Gov. Matt Bevin (R) wrote on Twitter: “My coronary heart breaks for his spouse and children … May perhaps God in truth lose His grace on us all” and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) reported in a tweet: “I can’t imagine his discomfort or the heartbreak his spouse and children is working with.”
The tumult started Monday, when the Kentucky Middle for Investigative Reporting published allegations that Johnson sexually assaulted his daughter’s friend during a sleepover in 2013.
The youthful girl, now 21, was quoted as stating that for several years she had deemed Johnson to be a “second dad.” She turned close with his daughter and familiar with the boozy weekend functions Johnson would toss at the “Pope’s House” — the fellowship hall future to the Heart of Fire Church. People functions, the Middle documented, featured scantily clad women, human body shots and costumes.
In the to start with hrs of 2013, as a New Year’s Eve party came to an finish, the girl reported, she was shelling out the evening with Johnson’s daughter in the apartment underneath the fellowship hall, in accordance to the report. The Washington Write-up generally does not establish victims of sexual assault with out their consent.
The girl reported Johnson entered the apartment, drunk and stumbling, so the then-teenager aided him navigate the stairs. She imagined he was putting his arm around her for balance, until eventually his hand allegedly slipped up the girl’s shirt, the Middle documented.
With mates and spouse and children standing behind him, Kentucky Condition Rep. Dan Johnson (R) addresses the public from his church on Tuesday, relating to allegations that he sexually abused a teenager just after a New Year’s party in 2013. Johnson reported a woman’s claim that he sexually assaulted her has no advantage and he vowed not to resign. He killed himself the future working day. (AP Image/Timothy D. Easley)
Later that evening, she awoke on a couch as Johnson knelt above her. She told the Middle that Johnson kissed her brow and then slipped his palms up her shirt and into her trousers. She begged him to quit and tried to force the man, who weighed two times as substantially as she did, off her with out waking Johnson’s daughter.
“He told her she’d like it. She reported no, she didn’t. She pleaded with him: go away, go away,” the report reported. He at some point did.
“What you did was further than necessarily mean it was evil,” the girl reported she wrote in a Fb concept to Johnson shortly just after the alleged assault, in accordance to the account.
The Center’s seven-month investigation, comprised of much more than 100 interviews and hundreds of internet pages of public documents, alleges the Republican’s persona was orchestrated to mask troubling incidents — which includes sexual abuse, arson and wrong testimony. It claims that Johnson — acknowledged in his church group as “Danny Ray Johnson” — painted a photo of himself around the several years as a pro-gun, antiabortion “patriot,” which aided propel him into the Kentucky legislature in 2016, when he won the House’s 49th District seat.
Michael Skoler, the president of Louisville General public Media — which operates the Middle — reported in a statement that the group was “deeply sad” to listen to about Johnson’s loss of life and was grieving “for his spouse and children, mates, church group and constituents.”
“Our purpose, as generally, is to offer the public with point-primarily based, impartial reporting and keep public officials accountable for their actions,” Skoler reported. “As part of our method, we attained out to Agent Johnson various periods around the course of a 7-month investigation. He declined requests to chat about our findings.”
Paul Ham, chairman of the Bullitt County Republican Party, reported the group is not handling the loss of life nicely and slammed the documented allegations, stating they were being “the catalyst that started off the complete issue.”
“The tale was primarily based on hearsay: No arrest, no conviction, no jail time,” Ham reported. “Back when the Constitution intended anything, a man could stand before a jury of his peers. But now, it’s just, ‘Let’s just make some accusations and operate with it.’ We’re in a pretty bad put.”
The web-site for the Heart of Fire Church reveals shots of Johnson with previous presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as nicely as with New York officials which includes previous mayor Rudolph Giuliani, governor George E. Pataki and religious leaders which includes Louis Farrakhan. The church sponsored a “Bike Ministry,” and images exhibit Johnson clad in a leather-based biker outfit and an American flag bandanna in the direct of a group of motorcyclists.
A video clip manufactured by Guns.com showed what it called the church’s ‘Gun Choir,’ with Johnson in a leather-based bicycle vest leading a group of people today singing ‘Amazing Grace,’ with pistols and guns shown. Guns.com reported that Heart of Fire was acknowledged as a ‘biker church.’
“Guns are welcome. Tattoos and Harleys are proposed, but not required,” the web-site reported. “Just make guaranteed you carry your Bible and an open mind.”
The church’s web-site reported that Johnson was in New York Metropolis throughout the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he experienced claimed that he aided law enforcement officers and firefighters at Floor Zero instantly just after the attack. On the Heart of Fire’s Fb web page, Johnson is referred to as a “911 First Responder.”
A indicator outside Johnson’s Heart of Fire Church read Thursday: “Satan accuses. God claims you are not responsible.”
A indicator outside the Heart of Fire Church in Louisville on Thursday. (James Higdon for The Washington Write-up)
Johnson’s loss of life came amid a flurry of sexual assault and harassment allegations against nicely-acknowledged and highly effective gentlemen that has spawned a nationwide conversation about its prevalence. People accused include Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and broadcaster Charlie Rose.
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) both of those reported final week that they would go away Congress as they confronted sexual misconduct allegations. On Thursday, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) reported that he will not seek out reelection next 12 months. Farenthold is underneath scrutiny for allegations that he sexually harassed feminine staff members customers and created a hostile operate natural environment.
Eli Rosenberg contributed to this report.
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