LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A Republican state representative in Kentucky says a woman's claim that he sexually assaulted her in 2013 has no merit and he will not resign.
Dan Johnson made the announcement at his church on Tuesday, a day after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a story quoting a woman as saying Johnson had sexually assaulted her in his basement on Jan. 1, 2013. The woman, Maranda Richmond, was a member of the church, where Johnson is the pastor.
The Associated Press does not generally identify alleged sexual assault victims, but is doing so because Richmond has gone public with her story.
Police documents from an interview with Richmond in 2013 corroborate what she told the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting. But Johnson called her story "totally false." He said it was part of a scheme to attack Republicans running for office, citing Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces accusations from multiple women of sexual misconduct.
"I don't think in every case women lie. Not at all. I think it is the season. Last election it seemed to be racism. This one seems to be sexual impropriety," he said. "If the police or anyone involved had thought that this was a real case, don't you think they would have pursued that? There is no way they would have let up if they thought there was something to it."
Police documents obtained by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting show a detective closed the case because Richmond would not cooperate. Richmond denied this, saying she never once wanted to stop the investigation.
Both the Republican and Democratic leaders of the state House of Representatives have called for Johnson to resign. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin has not called for Johnson to step down. But in an interview with WKYX radio, he spoke in general about the "reprehensible" allegations against Johnson and four other Republican lawmakers who recently settled a sexual-harassment claim outside of court.
"If these individuals had any self-respect, they would step down and stop staining the reputation of the legislature in Kentucky and Kentucky as a whole," Bevin said.
Johnson is listed as the bishop of Heart of Fire Church in Louisville. The church is known for its "gun choir," which features Johnson and others holding guns while singing "Amazing Grace." Johnson held a news conference Tuesday from the pulpit of his church. He began by leading his supporters in singing part of the Christmas carol "O Come All Ye Faithful."
Richmond said she spent the night at Johnson's home on New Year's Eve 2012. She said she awoke a few hours after midnight to find Johnson standing over her. She said he put his hand down her pants and put his hand in her vagina, despite her begging him to stop. She said he eventually left and she slipped away early that morning before he woke up.
Johnson said he remembered that night, but he said "there was nothing that really happened." Johnson's wife, Rebecca Johnson, said Richmond was sleeping in the same bed as the couple's daughter. Rebecca Johnson called the accusations "crazy."
"She had a lot of issues in her life and we tried to be friendly with her, be a family close to her," Rebecca Johnson said of Richmond. "I counseled her a lot, just like a daughter. I don't know, I guess that didn't go over real good."
Johnson said he did not want to "blast" Richmond, adding he has "compassion for her" and he is "very sorrowful she is in this dark place in her life."
But later, he added: "This woman is not my friend."
"For this to be laid against me as an accusation is horrible," he said. "I'm mad as can be. No one wants to be accused falsely."
Beam reported from Frankfort, Kentucky.