In this Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017, file photo, Kentucky State Rep. Republican Dan Johnson addresses the public from his church regarding sexual assault allegations in Louisville, Ky. Johnson died Wednesday night, Dec. 13, 2017. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings says it was 'probably suicide,' and an autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)
Michelle Ewing, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
MOUNT WASHINGTON, Ky.
A Kentucky state lawmaker accused of sexually assaulting a teenager died Wednesday night of a single, self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Bullitt County Coroner’s Office said Thursday in an autopsy report.
Here's what we know about Republican state Rep. Dan Johnson, who was elected in 2016:
A woman accused Johnson, pastor of the Heart of Fire church in Louisville, of sexually assaulting her in his basement when she was 17. According to a Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting article published Monday, she reported the alleged incident, which occurred on New Year's Eve 2012, to police, who later closed the case without filing charges. Read more here.
Johnson denied the allegation Tuesday at a news conference at his church. "These are unfounded accusations, totally," the 57-year-old pastor said after he and his supporters sang "O Come All Ye Faithful," the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
He added: "I think this is an assault on all real people. This is an absolute assault on real people. There’s no perfect people. You get into office and all of a sudden, political hacks want to come against you and start accusing you after you’re in office."
This wasn't Johnson's first brush with controversy. When he ran for office in 2016, critics slammed him for sharing racist Facebook memes comparing the Obamas to monkeys, as well as numerous anti-Islam messages, WDRB reported. Although the Republican Party of Kentucky called for Johnson to withdraw his candidacy, he stayed in the race and won.
The following post appeared on Johnson's Facebook page Wednesday shortly before his death:
"The accusations from NPR are false 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. I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world,My Love Forever ! My Mom and Dad my FAMILY and all five of my kids and Nine grandchildren two in tummies and many more to come each of you or a total gift from GOD stay strong, REBECCA needs YOU . 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer. IT Has Won This Life . BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME. “PLEASE LISTEN CLOSELY, Only Three things I ask of you to do,if you love me is (1)blame no person,Satan is the accuser, so blame the Devil himself. (2) Forgive and Love everyone especially yourself .(3)most importantly LOVE GOD. P.S. I LOVE MY FRIENDS YOU ARE FAMILY ! GOD LOVES ALL PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT ! "
Officials said Johnson was found dead with a single gunshot wound in a "probable suicide" Wednesday night, WDRB reported. Officers believe he shot himself in front of his car after parking off a road in Mount Washington.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin reacted to the news on Twitter. "Just terrible news from Kentucky tonight on the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson," Paul wrote. "I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with tonight. Kelley and I pray for his loved ones."
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.
Bevin wrote: "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..."
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...