An embattled Kentucky state lawmaker facing sexual assault allegations died Wednesday from a probable suicide.
State Rep. Dan Johnson’s death came about 24 hours after he vigorously denied the sexual assault allegations detailed in a lengthy investigation the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published on Monday.
Johnson’s accuser, who spoke on the record, said the alleged sexual assault took place in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2013, when she was 17 years old, according to the investigative report. She is now 21, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
The Republican lawmaker drove onto a bridge in Mount Washington, southeast of Louisville, parked his car on the north side of the bridge and shot himself in front of his car, Bullitt County Sheriff Donnie Tinnell told CNN affiliate WDRB.
Bullitt County Coroner Dave Billings, who confirmed the probable suicide to CNN, said Johnson died of a single gunshot wound in a rural area near Mount Washington.
Authorities discovered Johnson’s body in front of his truck and a 40-caliber semi-automatic handgun was found near the body, said Billings, who was called to the scene around 7:30 p.m.
In April 2013, the alleged victim reported the incident to police. At that point, the Louisville Metro Police Department initially opened an investigation but closed it months later without interviewing Johnson, according to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.
The accuser said she was staying in a living area of the Heart of Fire Church, where Johnson was the pastor, when he kissed her and fondled her underneath her clothes, according to the investigative report. The accuser said Johnson had been drinking.
The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting interviewed the woman after it saw a police report on the alleged sexual assault.
On Tuesday, Johnson denied the sexual assault allegations during a news conference at his church.
That day, Louisville authorities confirmed that detectives had reopened the investigation, the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting said.
Just before 5 p.m. Wednesday, Johnson posted a message on his Facebook page, which was later deleted, saying the accusations “are false,” according WDRB.
“GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be. AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand,” he posted, WDRB reported.
“I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world … 9-11-2001 NYC/WTC, PTSD 24/7 16 years is a sickness that will take my life, I cannot handle it any longer,” the post said.
According to Billings, relatives became concerned after seeing Johnson’s social media posts and reached out to law enforcement. Authorities pinged Johnson’s phone and later discovered his body, Billings said.
“Saddened to hear of tonight’s death of KY Representative Dan Johnson,” Gov. Matt Bevin tweeted Wednesday night.
An autopsy is planned for Thursday, Billings said.