State Rep. Dan Johnson's resignation sought after church member alleges sexual abuse
By Thomas Novelly
Louisville Courier Journal
December 11, 2017
|Dan Johnson is running as a Republican in state House District 49|
Photo by Joseph Gerth
Another Frankfort legislator is being asked to step down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
Dan Johnson, a preacher and Republican representative from Bullitt County, was accused of sexually abusing a member of his Fern Creek church, Heart of Fire, when she was 17. The woman says Johnson molested her after a New Year’s party in 2012, according to a report published Monday by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
Johnson was not available for comment at his office Monday, and he did not return a phone call left at his home. Courier Journal is not naming the woman because she says she was a victim of sexual abuse.
Officials from both sides of the aisle are calling on Johnson to step down.
"Following today’s extensively sourced and documented story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, we once again find ourselves in a position where we must call for him to resign, this time, from the Kentucky General Assembly," Mac Brown, the chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, said in a statement.
Last year, the Republican Party called for Johnson to drop out of the House race after Johnson posted, and later removed, racist images on his Facebook page, including images of former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama as monkeys.
On Monday, Republican leaders including Kentucky House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, House Majority Leader Jonathan Shell, Majority Whip Kevin Bratcher, and Majority Caucus Chairman David Meade said the latest allegations were "shocking."
“The victim’s statements, made on the record in her own name, are compelling and deeply troubling," the statement said. "Based on the information presented in this report we are calling on Representative Johnson to resign."
Mary Nishimuta, executive director of the Kentucky Democratic Party, called on Johnson to step down immediately.
"This is indicative of a corrupt culture in Frankfort that the Republican Party continues to accept. Kentucky’s families deserve better,” she said.
House Democratic Leader Rocky Adkins, House Democratic Caucus Chair Dennis Keene and House Democratic Whip Wilson Stone said Johnson should be investigated by authorities.
“The allegations of felony sexual abuse and other crimes against Rep. Dan Johnson are deeply troubling," they said in a statement. "... We particularly urge the appropriate law enforcement agencies to carefully re-examine accusations of sexual misconduct so that justice is secured for his alleged victim.”
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting's article said that Louisville Metro Police did not fully investigate the allegations made in 2013 against Johnson.
In response, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer will call for an internal review of the investigation, spokesman Chris Poynter said. "It's up to LMPD to determine whether or not to reopen the internal investigation," Poynter said.
The allegations against Johnson are the latest in a string of sexual misconduct claims across the nation, including in the Bluegrass State.
Last month, state Rep. Jeff Hoover, a Jamestown Republican, resigned his position as speaker of the House after Courier Journal broke the news that he had settled a sexual harassment claim with a woman on his staff.
Hoover admitted sending inappropriate text messages but denied sexual harassment. He later denied allegations made in a lawsuit that he had sex with the woman, whom Courier Journal also is not identifying.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Matt Bevin did not say whether or not the governor would call on Johnson to resign.
"Governor Bevin has been consistent from the beginning," spokeswoman Amanda Stamper said in an email. "Any elected Kentucky official who has a sexual assault or harassment claim that has been settled, proven or admitted to be true, should resign."
But when asked by the Lexington Herald-Leader in person Monday about the allegations against Johnson, Bevin demurred.
“I don’t want to talk about all this nonsense, gracious, lets wait until we get all the facts,” Bevin told reporters. “You guys are like ricochet rabbits on this stuff.”
The Johnson scandal comes as major figures in film, media and politics also have been accused of wrongful behavior, and some have lost their positions, including Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, film director James Toback, journalist and author Mark Halperin and NPR executive Michael Oreskes.