Metro Council court agrees to let Dan Johnson keep seat in limit - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Metro Council court agrees to let Dan Johnson keep seat in limited role

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Metro Councilman Dan Johnson Metro Councilman Dan Johnson
Councilwoman Jessica Green reacts to Wednesday night's decision. Councilwoman Jessica Green reacts to Wednesday night's decision.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Metro Council special court agreed Wednesday on an order that allows Dan Johnson to stay on council, but there are a few stipulations.

After several hours in closed session, the court voted 13-6 to pass the motion, with bipartisan "no" votes from David James, Pat Mulvihill, Kevin Kramer, Marilyn Parker, Julie Denton and Brent Ackerson.

As part of the agreement, Johnson waived his right to a hearing, admitting that there is enough evidence for his removal. Johnson will be allowed in City Hall only for the 20 minutes before, during and 20 minutes after committee and council meetings. He must stay off the premises at all other times.

Councilman Bill Hollander, who voted "yes" on the order, noted that Johnson admitted guilt and has agreed to be immediately removed if other violations occur.

"I would encourage anybody in the public to really read this stipulation," Hollander said. "It is, frankly, extraordinary and extremely stringent."

Johnson will not be allowed to initiate contact with other council members, other than by phone or email. He cannot attend any "ceremonial functions" outside District 21, the area he represents on Metro Council.

Also, any "intentional or accidental exposure of his genitals or buttock will result in review..."

While the council court approved the deal with the minimum number of votes needed, the committee that brought the charges against Johnson did not agree to it. Deborah Kent, the committee's attorney, harshly criticized the proposal, calling it "incredibly unfair."

Kent said the council court was essentially "condoning behavior" similar to that of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, both of whom were accused of sexual misconduct.

"We're here to do the tough job," Denton said before voting against the agreement. "This is an abdication of our duties."

Johnson has been fighting sexual harassment allegations for months. The first allegation started with a claim by councilwoman Jessica Green, who said Johnson groped her backside at a public event in June at Wyandotte Park. 

"I am disappointed and feel betrayed," Green said after the decision Wednesday. "We have a man who has sexually harassed three separate women in our community, propositioned one, exposed himself to one and groped another... and the majority of the council court believes that it is OK for that person to remain as a sitting member of the council. The five of us on this charging committee do not believe that that is OK.

"Today, I am embarrassed to be a member of this council."

In 2016, Erin Hinson, a legislative aide for Councilwoman Angela Leet said Johnson exposed his naked rear end to her in a parking lot. At the time, it was brushed off as an accident. 

"I know where every exit is in this building, and I have made plans for if something should happen, how to get out," Henson said Wednesday. "Why should I have to come and work in a place every day where I have to have an exit strategy should I have an inappropriate run in with a Metro Council member?"

Johnson was also banned from all Greater Louisville Inc. events after a chamber of commerce employee being called "Jane Doe" said he made lewd comments during a work trip to Austin, Texas. 

"We have all done stupid things," said Thomas McAdam, Johnson's attorney. "We've all said stupid things. We have all at one time or another in our lives done something that gave somebody offense. Always. Did we lose our job over it?"

Johnson is a founding member of the Louisville Metro Council and a former city alderman. He's been in public office for 25 years. 

As part of the agreement, Johnson will not run again for his seat. See the full list of stipulations below:

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