Sex Claim against Bullitt Youth Pastor Was False, Woman Admits

By Melissa Gagliardi
The Courier-Journal
July 30, 2008

The woman who accused a Bullitt County youth pastor of sexually abusing a teen now admits the story was false.

Debra Kay Perez Johnson admitted in a settlement filed yesterday in Bullitt County Circuit Court that she made up the allegation that Clayton Pruett had sexually abused a teen at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, where he is a youth pastor.

Johnson, a former Bullitt County school board member, will pay Pruett an undisclosed amount of money, according to the settlement.

"It's very gratifying that we have this document that shows what we have known all along," Pruett said. "We can now show without a shadow of a doubt that I am innocent."

He said the allegations came after he repeatedly disciplined Johnson's daughter. "I don't think she liked that one bit," he said of Johnson.

The charges were dismissed in January after an investigator in the case failed to show up for a probable cause hearing.

Pruett, who had been on paid voluntary administrative leave at the church, has been reinstated to his duties and will be preaching Sunday.

"It's just amazing to have a church that stands behind you," Pruett said.

Pruett also was approved to return to his duties as a substitute teacher and wrestling coach at Bullitt Central High School last spring after the school board did its own investigation, said Eric Farris, an attorney for the board.

Pruett said he's forgiven Johnson but that he can't forget what he's been through.

"It's something that will scar me for the rest of my life," he said.

Bullitt County Detective Scotty McGaha said charges could be filed against Johnson.

"Somebody comes in and makes a false statement, we take a hard stand against that," McGaha said.

Johnson could not be reached for comment. McGaha said he believes she is in Arkansas, where she has family.

Her attorney, R. Keith Bond, had no comment.

Farris said Johnson resigned her position on the school board in early June with plans to move outside her district.

Reporter Melissa Gagliardi can be reached at (502) 582-4117.


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