Kentucky Lawmaker Accused Of Molestion Teenage Girl Commits Suicide

Kentucky lawmaker, Dan Johnson, committed suicide amid child molestation accusations. 

Kentucky lawmaker Dan Johnson fatally shot himself Wednesday, two days after allegations surfaced that he had molested a member of his church when she was 17 years old, officials said.

Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson — a Republican state representative and self-proclaimed “Pope” of his Louisville church — died of “a penetrating gunshot wound to the head.”

The authorities found Johnson’s body Wednesday night after responding to a report about a concerning statement on his Facebook page. Officials had tracked the lawmaker’s phone to his location, near a bridge in Mount Washington, Ky., in a spot called the River Bottoms.

Johnson had suffered a single gunshot wound to his head, said Billings, the coroner. The Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office said a gun was recovered at the scene.

Billings officially ruled the 57-year-old’s death a suicide. Johnson’s body will now be released to his family for a funeral, the coroner told The Washington Post on Thursday morning. “I’m going to talk to his wife right now,” Billings said.

At his church Tuesday, Johnson had denied the molestation allegations and rejected calls to resign from Kentucky’s House of Representatives.

The following afternoon, he posted a message on Facebook again denying the accusations, saying they were “false . . . and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be.”

In the chilling, since-deleted post, Johnson added: “I cannot handle it any longer . . .  BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME.”

State leaders from both parties had been calling for Johnson’s immediate resignation after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a report Monday detailing allegations that Johnson woke his daughter’s friend during a sleepover in 2013 and forced himself on her, slipping his hands up her shirt and bra and putting his fingers in her vagina.

“What you did was beyond mean; it was evil,” the victim said she wrote in a Facebook message to Johnson shortly after the alleged assault, according to KyCIR.

Johnson said that the incident never happened. “This allegation concerning this lady, this young girl, absolutely has no merit, these are unfounded accusations, totally,” he said on Tuesday, according to the Courier-Journal.

The young woman, now 21, told KyCIR that for years she had considered Johnson to be a “second dad.” She became close with his daughter, Sarah, and familiar with the boozy weekend parties Johnson would throw at the “Pope’s House” — the fellowship hall next to the Heart of Fire Church. Those parties, KyCIR reported, featured scantily clad women, body shots and costumes.

In the first hours of 2013, as a New Year’s Eve party came to an end, the woman said, she was spending the night with Johnson’s daughter in the apartment under the fellowship hall, according to the report. The Washington Post does not identify victims of sexual assault without their consent.

Johnson entered the apartment, drunk and stumbling, so the then-teenager helped him navigate the stairs, she said. She thought he was putting his arm around her for balance, until his hand allegedly slipped up the girl’s shirt, KyCIR reported.

The victim then woke up later that night on the sofa, she told KyCIR, and found Johnson kneeling above her. She told KyCIR that Johnson kissed her forehead and then slipped his hands up her shirt and bra. The report said he groped her, stuck his tongue in her mouth and put his fingers in her vagina. She begged him to stop and tried to force the man, who weighed twice as much as she did, off her without waking Johnson’s daughter, KyCIR reported.

“He told her she’d like it. She said no, she didn’t. She pleaded with him: go away, go away,” KyCIR reported. He eventually did.

The KyCIR report highlights how Johnson — known in his church community as “Danny Ray Johnson” — painted a picture of himself over the years as a pro-gun, antiabortion “patriot,” which helped propel him into the Kentucky legislature in 2016, when he won the House’s 49th District seat. But the seven-month investigation, comprised of more than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of public records, alleges the Republican’s persona is orchestrated to mask troubling incidents — including sexual abuse, arson and false testimony.