On Wednesday night, Kentucky politician Dan Johnson took his own life after a local website uncovered his history of alleged sexual assaults. In the first on-air interview since her husband’s suicide, Rebecca Johnson told “TODAY” that her husband’s blood is on reporter’s hands.
Rebecca told “TODAY” hosts on Friday morning, “I am confident if that little greasy reporter had not done what he did, my husband would be alive right now.” She also maintained that the charges against her late husband are false, saying “These guys do not represent our values, so how could they even be fair?”
Her appearance on the Friday morning show is not the first time that she’s spoke out in defense of her husband; on Thursday, she called her husband’s death a “high-tech lynching” and added “Dan is gone but the story of his life is far from over … I’ve been fighting behind my husband for 30 years and his fight will go on,” The Washington Post reported.
The story that led to Johnson’s death is entitled “The Pope’s Long Con” — Johnson was an evangelical church leader who referred to himself as the “Pope.” Among other things, the story uncovered Johnson’s alleged sexual assault of a teenager who was a member of his congregation. The incident occurred before he was elected as a state representative.
Maranda Richmond came into the church with her family and became close with Johnson’s daughter. Eventually, she found herself at the “Pope’s” parties where adults served drinks to underage members of the church. On New Years Eve 2012, she was at one of those parties and decided to stay at the church for the night with a few friends. Richmond says that sometime after midnight, Johnson came back from the bar. He was drunk and she told Louisville Public Media’s Center for Investigative Reporting that he began molesting her on a couch.
Eventually, Richmond told her parents — her father was also at the party and he recalled “[Dan] was lit…I looked over and he had his face in some young girl’s crotch and boobs and I was like, ‘whoa, I don’t see ministers doing that.'” At first he wanted to take the matter into his own hands and “stomp” Johnson, but they eventually went to the police. The authorities were helpful but the case was quickly closed without any charges being filed.
After Johnson’s suicide, the reporters who broke the story are sticking to their piece. In a response, they wrote “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.”