Kentucky state congressman Dan Johnson was found dead on Wednesday night, days after being accused of sexual harassment by a woman who at the time of the alleged facts was a minor. According to Bullit County coroner Dave Billings, Johnson died of a gunshot would. “I would say it’s probably suicide,” he said.
Johnson, who will be autopsied on Thursday morning, was a controversial evangelical pastor who was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2016 as a Republican. In his campaign he compared the then president, Barack Obama, and the first lady, Michelle Obama, with primates.
Johnson was charged Monday by a woman having kissed and groped her without consent on New Year’s Eve in 2012, when she was 17 years old.
On Tuesday, during a press conference from the altar of his church in Louisville, Johnson denied the accusations and framed them in a campaign to intimidate the most conservative Republicans across the country.
Before passing away, Johnson posted an enigmatic message on his Facebook account in which he said he could no longer control the post-traumatic stress disorder he said he had suffered since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York.
“Post-traumatic stress disorder 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) for 16 years is a disease that will kill me, I can not control it anymore,” said Johnson, who asked God to take care of his wife, Rebecca.
As Sheriff Tinnell explained, Johnson drove to a bridge over the Salt River in Mount Washington, parked at one end and shot himself there.
The accusations of sexual assault against Johnson were revealed when a sexual harassment scandal involving four other Republican legislators took place in the state Capitol. Former Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, Jeff Hoover, resigned his leadership position after acknowledging that he secretly resolved a sexual harassment complaint with a member of his staff. Three other legislators participated in the agreement and all lost the presidency of their committees.