“I am confident if that little greasy reporter had not done what he did my husband would be alive right now.” Widow of Kentucky lawmaker who committed suicide after sexual assault allegations speaks out pic.twitter.com/GDkMeqqjTP— TODAY (@TODAYshow) December 15, 2017
The widow of a Kentucky state lawmaker who fatally shot himself after being accused of molesting a 17-year-old girl is speaking out about her husband's death.
Rebecca Johnson, the widow of Dan Johnson, a first-term Republican state representative, said on the Today show that Dan had been the victim of biased reporting that — in her view — led to his death.
“I am confident if that little greasy reporter had not done what he did, my husband would be alive right now,” Rebecca said.
On Monday, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an exposé that accused the lawmaker of sexual misconduct. The report detailed that Dan Johnson allegedly woke his daughter's 17-year-old friend, Maranda Richmond, after a New Year's Eve party on Jan. 1, 2013, and kissed and groped her.
He denied Richmond's accusation at a Tuesday news conference and was not charged in connection with it, although it had previously been reported to police.
The chair of the state’s Republican Party called for Dan Johnson's resignation and described the KCIR report as “extensively sourced.” The exposé included corroboration of the allegation by the accuser’s family as well as social media messages between her and Dan.
In KCIR’s story, Richmond recalled how Dan Johnson allegedly forced himself on her and how, even after he had left, she was scared he would return.
“Every little sound that I heard I was terrified that it was his door opening up and he was coming back out,” she said.
In an ensuing Facebook exchange days later, Richmond confronted Dan Johnson about what she said he had done, writing in a message to him: “What you did was beyond mean, it was evil. … I never thought something like that would happen to me, especially by someone like you.”
He did not reply.
“I’ve coped with it,” Richmond, now 21, told KCIR. “I know that it happened to me. And the main thing I can do is get it out there so that people know and that it doesn’t happen to anybody else. That’s all I want. I just don’t want somebody else to go through this.”
“This allegation concerning this lady, this young girl, absolutely has no merit,” Dan told reporters on Tuesday, noting he would not resign. “These are unfounded accusations, totally.”
“I don’t want to blast this girl; I have a lot of compassion for her,” he said. “I’m very sorrowful that she’s in this dark place in her life.”
Officials with Louisville Public Media, whose Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published the reporting said in a statement before Rebecca Johnson's Today appearance that they were "deeply sad" about Dan Johnson's suicide.
LPM also said that they had contacted Dan Johnson several times over the seven months leading up to the published report.
"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," LPM president Michael Skoler said.
Rebecca Johnson addressed the statement on her Friday appearance on Today.
“I’m going to be nice, but that’s b——,” she said, adding, “These guys do not represent our values, so how could they even be fair?”
As her husband did, she also dismissed the molestation accusation, calling it “unfounded.”
Friday was not the first time Rebecca Johnson had spoken about her husband's death.
“I Lost the LOVE of MY Life tonight, He was a Gift to ALL who knew him,” she reportedly wrote early Thursday on Facebook.
Dan was “Always Encouraging, Helping others, Giving All he had to give and bringing Joy and Laughter to all he met,” Rebecca wrote.
Her post is no longer publicly available and a message left with her was not returned.
On Friday, her voice choking up, she again shared her grief: “My children will not have their father, my grandchildren are not going to have their grandfather.”
She has reportedly announced her intention to run for his now-vacant legislature seat.
Photo credit: WURV