The day after the suicide of Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson, his widow announced that she plans to run for his seat.
“Dan is gone but the story of his life is far from over,” Rebecca Johnson said in a statement Thursday to multiple news outlets. “These high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can’t be allowed to win the day. I’ve been fighting behind my husband for 30 years and his fight will go on.”
It’s the latest turn in what has been shocking series of events.
On Monday, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published an in-depth investigation of Johnson that included allegations he sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl in the basement of the church where he served as pastor in 2013.
He was found dead on Wednesday night next to his vehicle on a bridge over the Salt River in Mount Washington. Bullitt County Coroner David Billings said Johnson, 57, died from a single, self-inflicted gunshot to the head.
Johnson’s body was found after he posted what was apparently a suicide note on Facebook in which he denied the allegations. “GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be,” Johnson wrote, The Washington Post reports. “I cannot handle it any longer . . . BUT HEAVEN IS MY HOME.”
Since his death, his widow has given multiple interviews in which she criticizes the media, the Louisville Courier Journal reports:
” ‘This city has lost a good man,’ Rebecca Johnson told Chris Williams, an investigative reporter with WHAS 11. ‘And just because he is not liberal, he’s not a Democrat, he’s not a certain religion, he’s not a certain race, he’s been attacked. He’s been attacked for his faith. And that’s a shame.’ …
“Williams ended the interview by asking why she was talking to the media.
” ‘Because I’m just upset that the direction that our country has taken, that good men are being destroyed over political gain,’ Johnson said. ‘Is it really worth it? Is there really anybody good enough anymore? Is anybody good enough to do anything? My God. You can’t turn on the TV without seeing someone being attacked for sexual harassment. Last year, it was prejudice. This year, the thing that’s in is sexual harassment. I’m wondering what it’s going to be next year. It’s ridiculous. Why can’t we get along, why can’t we let people do their job? Are we so greedy and selfish that we have to destroy one another?’ ”
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting is an initiative of Louisville Public Media, which operates three NPR member stations. The president of Louisville Public Media, Michael Skoler, said in a statement that everyone at the organization was deeply saddened to learn of Johnson’s death.
“Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions,” he said. “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.”