Kentucky lawmaker Dan Johnson fatally shot himself in the head, just one day after he denied allegations that he molested a teenage girl after a New Year’s party in 2013.
Bullitt County Coroner David Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound to the head at Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky, in a place called the River Bottoms.
Johnson had denied the molestation allegations at a press conference Tuesday.
“This allegation concerning this lady, this young girl, absolutely has no merit, these are unfounded accusations, totally,” he said, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Johnson said the woman was a church member who was upset with how he spoke to the girls that night.
“I don’t want to blast this girl, I have a lot of compassion for her,” he said. “I’m very sorrowful that she’s in this dark place in her life.”
Officials found Johnson’s body after a report of a Facebook post he wrote about denying the allegations and saying he loved his family. Johnson’s relatives became concerned after seeing the post and reached out to law enforcement. They tracked Johnson’s phone to the location of his body, which had a .40 caliber handgun lying beside him.
“GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand,” he wrote in the Facebook post, which has since been deleted.
“I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world … 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer… BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME.”
According to a Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR) report detailing the allegations, Johnson woke his daughter’s friend, then 17 at the time, during a sleepover after the party, and put his hands up her shirt and put his fingers in her vagina.
“He told her she’d like it. She said no, she didn’t. She pleaded with him: go away, go away,” KyCIR reported.
“What you did was beyond mean; it was evil,” the woman said she wrote in a Facebook post to Johnson after the sexual assault.
Johnson sent her a Facebook message saying that his daughter told him that he was being “mean” to the victim, as well as his own son.
“Sarah said I was mean to Bo You and Her by telling you all to go to bed so sorry don’t remember I was told we all got drugged at TK’s anyway so sorry if I sounded mean, you know you are one of my favorites, love you sorry! Boaz did Great Sunday! Your future Husband!” the message read, KyCIR reported.
“Drugged or not, I think you know what happened that night and that’s why you’re sending this message. I never thought something like that would happen to me, especially by someone like you. I looked at you as a Dad, but now I sincerely hope I don’t see you again, but I might try to maintain a relationship with your kids. And there is no point in responding to this message either because I don’t want to talk about it ever again,” she told KyCIR.
According to the investigation, there are other allegations of sexual abuse, arson and making a false police report in 1987.
Michael Skoler, president of Louisville Public Media, released a statement on Twitter that they are sad to hear about Johnson’s death:
“All of us at Louisville Public Media are deeply sad to hear that State Representative Dan Johnson has died, apparently of suicide. We grieve for his family, friends, church community and constituents.
Our Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting released a report on Johnson this week. Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions.
As part of our process, we reached out to Representative Johnson numerous times over the course of a seven-month investigation. He declined requests to talk about our findings.”
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, tweeted Wednesday night: “Just terrible news from Kentucky tonight on the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson. I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with tonight. Kelley and I pray for his loved ones.”
“Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson… My heart breaks for his family tonight… These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America… May God indeed shed His grace on us all… We sure need it…,” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted.