Note from dead US politician: ‘America will not survive this’
A US state politician accused of sexually molesting a 17-year-old girl in a media expose earlier this week has taken his own life.
Kentucky Republican representative Dan Johnson was found dead inside a car on a bridge in Mount Washington on Wednesday evening, local police confirmed.
On Monday, a report by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting accused the 57-year-old of forcing himself on a friend of his teenage daughter and member of his parish at a New Year's Eve party in 2012.
Police initially closed the case without filing charges, but reopened the investigation this week following the expose in which now 21-year-old Maranda Richmond detailed the incident.
In an apparent suicide note posted to Facebook at around 5pm on Wednesday, Mr Johnson denied the claims. "The accusations from NPR are false GOD and only GOD knows the truth, nothing is the way they make it out to be," he wrote.
"AMERICA will not survive this type of judge and jury fake news. Conservatives take a stand. I LOVE GOD and I LOVE MY WIFE, who is the best WIFE in the world, My Love Forever!"
Mr Johnson had been under pressure from both Democrats and Republicans to resign over the article, which painted him as a "preacher-turned politician" who cultivated a persona based on a "web of lies and deception".
In a statement, Louisville Public Media said, "All of us at Louisville Public Media are deeply sad to hear that State Representative Dan Johnson has died, apparently of suicide. We grieve for his family, friends, church community and constituents.
"Our Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting released a report on Johnson this week. Our aim, as always, is to provide the public with fact-based, unbiased reporting and hold public officials accountable for their actions.
"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."
State and federal politicians also issued statements.
"It is with great sadness that we have received confirmed reports of the passing of Rep. Dan Johnson this evening," Republican representative David Osborne said. "Please keep his family in your prayers during this incredibly difficult time."
Former Kentucky House of Representatives speaker Jeff Hoover said, "In America, those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
"Persons posting accusations on social media as truth, and those who are self righteous and indignant over mere accusations must do better. Personal attacks don't have to be part of politics."
If you or someone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 for 24-hour Australian counselling services.