A Kentucky state lawmaker accused of molesting a teenager committed suicide Wednesday after denying the allegation and refusing calls by leaders of both parties to resign, according to local media reports.
State Rep. Dan Johnson, also a pastor who called himself “pope,” was the subject of an extensive report published Monday by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. It accused the Republican lawmaker of molesting a 17-year-old girl in his church’s basement in 2012.
Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell told WDRB-TV that Johnson killed himself on a bridge in Mount Washington, Ky.
“Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson,” Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, a fellow Republican, tweeted Wednesday night. “My heart breaks for his wife and children…These are heavy days in Frankfort and in America...May God shed His grace on us all...We sure need it...”
In a Facebook post Johnson apparently published to his account earlier Wednesday, he said he had “24/7” post-traumatic stress disorder and “cannot handle it any longer,” according to WDRB-TV. (The post appears to have been taken down or is not publicly available.)
The post also denied the molestation claim and said: “only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand.”
Kentucky politicians had called for Johnson to resign after publication of the report on a seven-month investigation alleging wide-ranging misbehavior and lies by Johnson, who was first elected to office in 2016.
Matt Pearce is a national reporter for The Times. Follow him on Twitter at @mattdpearce.