A Republican state representative and pastor from Kentucky has been accused of sexually assaulting his daughter’s then-17-year-old friend in 2013 – but he claims the allegations against him are baseless and he will not resign.
Dan Johnson, 57, best known for likening then-President Barack and Michelle Obama to monkeys, made the announcement at his church on Tuesday, a day after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a graphic account quoting Maranda Richmond as saying that Johnson had sexually assaulted her in his basement on January 1, 2013.
Richmond was friends with Johnson’s daughter, Sarah, and a member of the church where he was the pastor.
DailyMail.com does not generally identify alleged sexual assault victims, but is doing so because Richmond has gone public with her story.
Scandal: Kentucky State Rep. Republican Dan Johnson (left), addresses the public from his church on Tuesday regarding allegations made by Maranda Richmond (right) claiming that he sexually assaulted her in 2013, when she was 17 years old
Defiant: Johnson, pictured above posing up with President Donald Trump, says Richmond’s claim has no merit and he will not resign
Fire power: Johnson, dubbed ‘Pope,’ is the bishop of Heart of Fire Church in Louisville, which is known for its ‘gun choir’ where worshipers hold guns while singing Amazing Grace
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 US Senate candidate Roy Moore, who faces accusations from multiple women of sexual misconduct and predatory behavior targeting underage girls.
‘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,’ said Johnson, who is married.
‘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.’
Richmond, now aged 21, said she spent the night on a couch in Johnson’s basement after attending the family’s New Year’s Eve party. She said she awoke a few hours after midnight to find Johnson standing over her.
Bombshell claims: Richmond, now aged 21 (left), says after a New Year’s Eve party at the Johnson family’s home in 2013, her friend’s dad groped her and slipped his hand inside her vagina
Failed sting: The Louisville Metro Police Department recorded a phone call between Johnson and Richmond’s father, Clifford (left), in which Johnson said he ‘couldn’t imagine doing that to Maranda’
Richmond said she the married lawmaker, who goes by the nickname ‘Pope,’ groped her and stuck his tongue in her mouth, then put his hand down her pants and slipped it inside her vagina.
She said she begged him to stop, but Johnson kept telling her she would like it. Eventually, he left and she slipped away early that morning before he woke up.
Richmond went to the police. Records show investigators with the Louisville Metro Police Department recorded a phone call between Johnson and Richmond’s father, Clifford, in which Johnson said he ‘couldn’t imagine doing that to Maranda.’
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.
David Osborne, acting speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, said the report was ‘compelling and deeply troubling.’
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.
United front: Johnson and wife Rebecca have been married for 30 years. Mrs Johnson (pictured left and right) said Richmond had a lot of ‘issues’ and called the accusations against her husband ‘crazy’
Familiar faces: Among the many photos posted on Johnson’s Facebook page there are images of the pastor posing up with President Donald Trump, and former presidents George H W Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush
‘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.
He ousted a Democratic incumbent during the 2016 elections, part of a wave of Republican victories that handed the GOP control of the state House of Representatives for the first time in nearly 100 years.
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.
Johnson said he remembered the night of the New Year’s Eve party, but he said ‘there was nothing that really happened.’
Johnson’s wife of 30 years, 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.’
Racial firestorm: In 2016, while he was a candidate for office, Johnson (pictured on tuesday) caused an uproar after posting racist photos on his Facebook page comparing the Obamas to monkeys
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.’
This is the second time Republican leaders have asked for Johnson’s resignation.
In 2016, while he was a candidate for office, he caused an uproar after posting racist photos on his Facebook page comparing the Obamas to monkeys.
He rejected Republican leaders’ calls for him to drop out of the race, and ended up winning it.
Among the many photos posted on Johnson’s Facebook page there are images of the pastor posing up with President Donald Trump, and former presidents George H W Bush, Bill Clinton and George W Bush.
Trump, Clinton and George H W Bush have all been accused of sexual misconduct.