Republican Kentucky state representative Dan Johnson was found dead on December 13th of an apparent suicide. His death comes after allegations surfaced that he molested his daughter's friend when she was 17.
Johnson fatally shot himself Wednesday, said officials according to The Washington Post. The suicide came only two days after the allegations were first made. Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of “a penetrating gunshot wound to the head.”
Authorities found Johnson on Wednesday night. They were responding to a report about a concerning statement on the representative's Facebook page. They tracked his cellphone to a bridge in Mount Washington, Kentucky. The gun was found at the scene.
Billings officially ruled the 57-year-old’s death a suicide. Johnson’s body will now be released to his family for a funeral, said the corner.
“I’m going to talk to his wife right now,” added Billings to the Post.
On Tuesday, Johnson denied all allegations, and he rejected calls to resign from Kentucky’s House of Representatives.
The following afternoon, he posted a message on Facebook. He denied the truth of the accusations, writing that they are “false . . . and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be.”
Johnson added: “I cannot handle it any longer...BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME.”
Before his suicide, Johnson said the incident never happened. “This allegation concerning this lady, this young girl, absolutely has no merit, these are unfounded accusations, totally,” he said on Tuesday, according to the Courier-Journal.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a report, comprised of more than 100 interviews and thousands of pages of public records, which alleges the Republican is guilty of "sexual abuse, arson, and false testimony," said The Post.
Michael Skoler, the president of Louisville Public Media, which operates KyCIR, issued a statement to the Post on Wednesday. He told the paper that he is “deeply sad” to hear about Johnson’s death and was grieving “for his family, friends, church community and constituents.”
“Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions,” Skoler said. “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.”
Following the news of Johnson’s death, Republicans from his state issued statements. They offered support to those who are in the same mental state, and they offered consolation to his family.
State Rep. C. Wesley Morgan took to Twitter to mourn his friend. He blamed his party and the media for Johnson's death.
Hours later, Morgan shared the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline‘s 1-800 number, and said: “People will say and do terrible things to you in this world. But nothing is worth taking your life.”
Sen. Rand Paul also tweeted about Johnson’s death, saying: “I cannot imagine his pain or the heartbreak his family is dealing with.”
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said he was saddened by the news of Johnson’s death, writing on Twitter: “My heart breaks for his family … May God indeed shed His grace on us all.”
Bevin also called for an end to “all the nasty, vulgar comments & other despicable responses to the news.”
At a news conference at the church Tuesday, Johnson defended himself, calling the attack on his politically motivated. He said the woman supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election and disagreed with his conservative stance on abortion.
“This is an assault on all real people. There’s no perfect people, and you get into office and all of sudden political hacks come against you and start accusing you after you’re in office,” Johnson said.
Please pray for Johnson's family as they deal with the fallout of the accusations and their loved one's death.