It was a quiet enough bit of news. But is it an old reaction added to the new stories? Will copycats follow?
In the wake of the tsunami of sexual assault allegations and sexual misconduct revelations, a sea change in our culture is occurring in late 2017.
The victims of the alleged sexual abuse incidents should rightfully be listened to, although the focus of the media treatments have often been the alleged predators.
Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound December 13, 2017, Wednesday night on Greenwell Ford Road in Mount Washington, Kentucky. Billings said Johnson stopped his car at the end of a bridge over the Salt River in a secluded area, then got out, walked to the front of his SUV and shot himself in the chin. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning. Johnson was 57.
A KyCIR investigation published Monday (December 11, 2017) outlined Johnson’s history of alleged crimes, lies and deceit and included the woman’s account of the alleged molestation. The account, based on police files and interviews with Maranda Richmond and her family, detailed how detectives closed the sexual assault case, citing Richmond’s lack of cooperation.
But Richmond denied that assertion. She said she had always pushed for Johnson’s prosecution. Experts who reviewed the case file at the request of KyCIR said police botched the investigation from the beginning, misclassifying the charge and more.
Richmond alleged Johnson molested her in the church’s basement following a New Year’s party. She said Johnson shoved his tongue into her mouth, groped her breasts under her shirt, pushed his hands down her pants and penetrated her with his finger.
Richmond spoke at length about the encounter and the impact it had on her life. She shared notes from her therapists and police files, including a scratchy recording in which her father, at the LMPD’s behest, called Johnson on a recorded line and sought his confession. She also shared a Facebook message from Johnson in which he claimed he was drugged that night and apologized for being “mean” to her.
Johnson was a bishop at the Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, Kentucky. The church is nondenominational and evangelical. Johnson referred to himself as the "pope" of the church, and was once photographed with Donald Trump.
Johnson was elected to the state House in 2016, defeating Democratic incumbent Linda Belcher by a narrow margin. He was elected from the 49th House district, covering Bullitt County. Johnson was known for his inflammatory comments on Facebook, including posts depicting Barack and Michelle Obama as apes and anti-Muslim comments, and the use of Confederate flags and noting his love of "white people." These activities prompted Republican leaders to call on him to drop out of the state House race. He didn't.
On December 11, 2017, Johnson was accused of having molested a member of his church on New Year's Eve of 2012, when she was 17 years old. Although the Republican Party of Kentucky requested his resignation, Johnson refused to resign, claiming the allegations were untrue and were politically motivated.
A rambling pre-suicide posting of Johnson's was found on his Facebook page.
Johnson died by suicide on December 13, 2017, almost immediately after the accusation
against him was made public. In a message posted to Facebook (above) shortly
before his suicide, Johnson reiterated his claim that allegations that he had
sexually molested a minor were false, and he stated that he was no longer
able to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder he alluded to having
developed after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
The Salt River, Mount Washington Bridge, Greenwell Ford Road, Bullitt County, suicide by gun. Heart of Fire Church, Kentucky, "pope."