Rebecca Johnson, widow of Kentucky GOP State Representative Dan Johnson, says that her husband killed himself earlier this week based on an “unfounded accusation” and an expose by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR) intended to “crucify” the self-proclaimed Christian “bishop.” In an interview Friday, Mrs. Johnson, whose husband shot himself to death on December 13, claimed that the allegations that the Kentucky GOP lawmaker had sexually assaulted 17-year-old Maranda Richmond were simply untrue. She went on to add that the people behind the sensational story acted as “a lynch mob funded by out-of-state money,” reports NBC News.
“It’s really an outrageous, unfounded accusation, and there has never been a criminal investigation. We didn’t even know about this until it came out.”
As CNN reports, 57-year-old Kentucky GOP lawmaker Dan Johnson was found dead from a single gunshot wound at approximately 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Just before his death, Johnson posted a message on social media denying the sexual assault allegations against him. The post in question has been described as “rambling,” and reportedly alarmed those close to the Kentucky GOP representative enough that they contacted law enforcement, who later discovered his body on a rural bridge. On Thursday, Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings ruled Johnson’s death a suicide following an autopsy.
Just 24 hours before taking his own life, the outspoken Christian GOP lawmaker, speaking from the pulpit of his Kentucky church, publicly denied that he had sexually assaulted then 17-year-old Maranda Richmond on New Year’s Eve 2012. While publicly proclaiming his innocence, Johnson also announced that he would not be resigning.
Despite the fact that both the lawmaker and his widow publicly deny the validity of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting’s report that Johnson sexually assaulted Maranda Richmond, the investigative news site stands by their reporting. According to executive Stephen George of the site’s parent company, a police investigation into the alleged sexual assault was conducted in April of 2013, but then-preacher Dan Johnson was not charged. George added that his publication gave the lawmaker “repeated opportunities” to respond to the allegation against him.
“We shared our condolences with Rep. Johnson’s family, friends, constituents and church community. Our story is based on more than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of public documents, which are posted online along with our investigation. Readers can see the reporting and documentation for themselves.”
While the newly widowed Rebecca Johnson continues to tout her husband’s innocence, proclaiming the sexual assault claims against him “unfounded” and that Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is tantamount to a “lynch mob” with the intent of “crucifying” her late husband, the investigative report has spawned new police interest in the claims of now-21-year-old Maranda Richmond. Since the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting story broke, the Louisville Metro Police Department has reportedly reopened the original criminal investigation into the alleged rape.
What’s more, an internal probe is now investigating how the original criminal investigation was handled by the same police department, per the order of Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher.
According to Stephen George, Rebecca Johnson’s claim that his company’s investigation into her husband’s alleged sexual assault were “funded by out-of-state money” is also untrue, adding that “90 percent of our funding comes from our community.”
Prior to his foray into politics, Johnson made a name for himself as the “bishop” of the Heart of Fire Church south of Louisville, a Kentucky Christian church. He rose to national fame and notoriety after posting racist remarks about the Obamas during his political campaign, reports the Courier-Journal. Johnson also claimed to have once raised a young woman from the dead, reports NBC News.
In speaking out in her husband’s defense on Friday, Rebecca Johnson didn’t mention the bulk of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting report regarding her husband’s alleged 2012 sexual assault of the then 17-year-old Maranda Richmond, other than to call the article “unfair.” Mrs. Johnson added that her husband “would be alive right now had it not been for that article.”
“All it did was rally a circus of media on him and literally got to the point where he felt, ‘I can’t do anything right, I’m not good enough. They threw everything at him but the kitchen sink.”
In the aftermath of her husband’s suicide, Rebecca Johnson has announced that she will personally seek to fill his empty seat in the Kentucky legislature.