Multiple U.S. congressmen — including Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) — have recently resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct. Now, a Republican Kentucky state lawmaker, Dan Johnson, has been found dead of an apparent suicide after denying allegations that he molested a 17-year-old girl in 2012. The Washington Post reports that police, who were alerted to a “concerning Facebook statement” (which has been posted by Louisville radio station WDRB), tracked Johnson’s phone and discovered his body on a bridge in Mount Washington on Tuesday night.
According to the coroner’s report, Johnson died from a single gunshot wound to the head, which was “most likely” self-inflicted. The Tennessean reveals that the woman who accused Johnson of molesting her was a parishioner at the church where he was a pastor (and reportedly referred to himself as the “pope”). The woman claims that the sexual abuse occurred during a sleepover after a New Year’s party. The Washington Post details the allegations:
State leaders from both parties had been calling for Johnson’s immediate resignation after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting (KyCIR) published an exposé Monday detailing allegations of how Johnson woke his daughter’s friend during a sleepover in 2013 and forced himself on her, slipping his hands up her shirt and bra and putting his fingers in her vagina.
“What you did was beyond mean, it was evil,” the victim said she wrote in a Facebook message to him shortly after the incident, according to KyCIR.
On Tuesday, Johnson told his local ABC affiliate that he would not resign following the allegations, which he called false. According to WDRB, he then posted the Facebook post in question (in which he points a finger at “fake news”) at around 5:00pm EST before presumably taking his own life. Police are doing further analysis on the gun located at the scene.
Tennessee House Speaker Pro-Tem David Osborne has issued a statement. “It is with great sadness that we have received confirmed reports of the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson this evening,” Osbourne said. “Please keep his family in your prayers during this incredibly difficult time.”