Kentucky lawmaker commits suicide amid sexual assault allegations

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Dan Johnson
An image of Kentucky Representative Dan Johnson. (Kentucky Legislative Research Commission/Handout via REUTERS)

A Kentucky lawmaker was found dead on Wednesday, in a remote area in Bullitt County. Republican state Rep. Dan Johnson died in an apparent suicide a day after denying sexual assault allegations.

A single gunshot wound was found on Johnson’s body. Authorities have confirmed that the wound was self-inflicted and the cause of his death was suicide.

The lawmaker drove to a bridge over Salt River on Greenwell Ford Road in Mt. Washington, where he parked and then shot himself in front of his car. His body was found on the river bank just past the bridge.

Earlier that day, Johnson posted a lengthy message on Facebook, which seemed to have been his farewell message to his family. He urged them to stay strong, as his wife Rebecca needs them.

After seeing the troubling post, relatives of Johnson became concerned for his safety and contacted law enforcement. Police officers pinged Johnson’s phone and discovered the location of his body.

A day before the suicide, Johnson held a press conference at his Heart of Fire City Church in Louisville to deny the sexual assault allegations being thrown at him.

The allegations were detailed in an investigation conducted by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. According to police documents obtained by the organization, the alleged molestation took place during the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2013. The victim, Maranda Richmond, was 17 years old at the time.

According to Richmond, she was at the living area of the Heart of Fire City Church, where Johnson was a pastor, when he drunkenly forced himself on her, kissing and fondling her underneath her clothes.

The incident was reported to the police in April 2013. However, the investigation was closed without charging Johnson. After the investigative report was released, authorities reopened their investigation on the matter.