FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The Kentucky lawmaker’s resume included sufficient materials for an award-winning memoir: He was a peacekeeper on the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, a White House chaplain to 3 presidents and a 9/11 first responder who gave final rites to a whole lot of folks at Ground Zero.
But Republican Dan Johnson’s rigorously crafted history crumbled this week following an extensively reported story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. The story tore down his claims and portrayed him as a con man whose deceptions propped up his ministry of a church of outcasts in Louisville and hid a sinister secret: a sexual assault allegation from a 17-year-old lady.
Johnson denied all of it, declaring his innocence from the pulpit of the church the place he was the self-appointed “pope.” By Wednesday night time, he was lifeless, his physique discovered on the facet of a secluded street with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the top.
The loss of life of the 57-year-old jolted Republican leaders, who had been already fighting a sexual harassment scandal that toppled the state’s first GOP House speaker in practically 100 years plus three different Republican committee chairmen. Most in the celebration had already turned their again on Johnson, calling for his resignation following the sexual assault allegation and his history of posting racist pictures on Facebook that depicted President Barack Obama and first woman Michelle Obama as monkeys.
By Thursday, many had been providing messages of sympathy whereas acknowledging Johnson’s complicated life.
“He was enthusiastic about others, I noticed it usually but he wanted assist himself,” GOP state Rep. Jim DuPlessis, who sat beside Johnson on the House ground, posted on Twitter.
Johnson’s spouse, Rebecca Johnson, mentioned her husband was the sufferer of a “high-tech lynching” and introduced she would run to interchange him in the Legislature.
Elected in 2016, he was half of a wave of Republican victories that gave the GOP a majority in the Kentucky House for the primary time in practically 100 years. But earlier than that, he was the pastor of Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, which prided itself on welcoming “actual folks.”
“It was a biker church, so there was heaps of leather-based jackets, heaps of lengthy hair and people who in the event you bumped into them on the road, you may need a special first impression,” mentioned David Adams, a political operative who labored with Johnson on his marketing campaign.
On the church’s web site, Johnson claimed to have healed sick folks throughout a go to to South America in 1991, together with the unbelievable story of elevating a girl from the lifeless. The miracles had been detailed in a letter from David Fischer, pastor of a church in California. Fischer informed the investigative reporting heart that he didn’t witness these occasions and couldn’t level the company to anybody who had.
On his monetary disclosure types, Johnson listed his solely supply of revenue as employees compensation from the state of New York. He mentioned that cash was from accidents he sustained whereas working as a chaplain instantly following the 9/11 terrorist assault in New York City. But the reporting heart, after a seven-month effort, might discover no proof that Johnson was in New York that day.
In a Facebook message posted hours earlier than his loss of life, Johnson hinted that he suffered from post-traumatic stress dysfunction referring to what he witnessed in New York, particulars that he shared with pals by means of the years, together with Republican state Sen. Dan Seum.
“He struggled with that. I do know he did. The reality it was so horrific that he was concerned in praying over these folks,” Seum mentioned. “I believed him. I had no purpose to not.”
The sexual assault allegation got here from Maranda Richmond, a former member of Johnson’s church. Richmond informed the reporting heart she was spending the night time at Johnson’s home on New Year’s Eve 2012 when she awoke a number of hours after midnight to seek out Johnson standing over her. She mentioned he caught his tongue in her mouth and put his arms down her pants and into her vagina. She mentioned she begged him to cease and finally he did.
The Associated Press doesn’t usually establish victims who report sexual assault however is doing so as a result of Richmond has gone public along with her story.
Richmond’s public feedback match what she informed police two years in the past, based on police paperwork obtained by the reporting heart. In 2013, police investigated the matter, together with a secretly recorded telephone name between Johnson and Richmond’s father. But a detective later closed the case, saying Richmond refused to cooperate. Richmond denied that.
As a consequence of the middle’s reporting, the Louisville Metro Police Department re-opened its investigation.
Johnson held a information convention Tuesday at his church, denying the allegations along with his spouse by his facet. He mentioned he wouldn’t resign, calling the accusations half of a technique to assault conservative Republicans nationwide. He saved his criticism for the media, saying he didn’t “need to blast this lady. I’ve compassion for her. I am very sorrowful she is in this darkish place in her life.”
The reporting heart interviewed folks who had been on the Rodney King riots and spoke with an professional on spiritual religion and the presidency. All of them mentioned Johnson’s claims had been false.
He insisted it was all true.
“This complete piece was so outrageous. It was as if I had by no means lived or by no means finished something I had ever finished,” he informed reporters.
At the top of the information convention, a reporter requested if he had ever raised anybody from the lifeless. Johnson stopped, turned to face the journalist and mentioned, “God has,” earlier than strolling out of the pulpit for the ultimate time.