3-person Metro Council panel removes Dan Johnson from office
A 3-person Louisville Metro Council panel has determined that Dan Johnson violated an agreement that would have allowed him to keep his seat and has removed Johnson from office.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A three-person Louisville Metro Council panel unanimously ruled Friday that Dan Johnson, who was accused of sexual misconduct with three woman, violated a controversial agreement that had allowed him to keep his council seat.
The panel's members, Democrats Rick Blackwell, Barbara Shanklin and Barbara Sexton Smith, spent about an hour in a closed session before announcing that Johnson failed to abide by the deal struck Nov. 1 that avoided a removal trial.
Smith, a Metro Council member in Louisville's Fourth District, issued the following statement on Saturday: “Justice prevailed yesterday with the unanimous vote to remove Dan Johnson from Louisville Metro Council. We deliberated expeditiously and sent a strong message to everyone - we do not and will not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace. We do not and will not tolerate a hostile work environment. We are at the intersection of justice and healing. Our pathway to justice became clear. Our pathway to healing is more complicated.”
Johnson, a Democrat representing southern Louisville's 21st District, had agreed to conditions that included staying only 20 minutes before and 20 minutes after committee and council meetings. He also had admitted there was enough evidence for his removal.
But the three-person triumvirate reviewed footage from City Hall cameras that showed Johnson lingered for at least four minutes past the time he was supposed to leave on the night that the settlement was announced on Nov. 1. In particular, the panel noted that he stood near a basement exit that his alleged victims also would need to use.
And the panel claimed that Johnson, in a Facebook post and an interview with WDRB News, challenged the admissions of wrongdoing in the stipulated order. In the televised interview, he said: "I still say I did nothing wrong, but actually some of those instances happened just like they said they did. So if that's the case, I guess I did something wrong. But I didn't do it."
Johnson had accused WDRB of an "ambush." In fact, however, a reporter asked Johnson for an interview, then the former councilman went inside his house to comb his hair and emerged several minutes later to speak on the record.
Johnson served on the old Louisville Board of Alderman and was an original member of the Metro Council. Three women accused him of inappropriate behavior: council member Jessica Green said Johnson groped her backside at a public event in June at Wyandotte Park, and a legislative aide to council member Angela Leet says he exposed his backside to her in a parking lot outside City Hall.
And the city's chamber of commerce -- Greater Louisville Inc. -- banned Johnson from its events following "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior" toward one of its employees during a trip to Texas.
Johnson was nearly removed by a special council court after those accusations, but the council voted to let Johnson keep his seat if he followed specific rules and signed an agreement.
By signing the agreement, Johnson also agreed not to appeal any ruling by the three-person panel overseeing the agreement.
Johnson's attorney, Thomas McAdam, denied the violations.
McAdam argued that the Nov. 1 meeting -- a Removal Hearing to examine whether Johnson himself should be removed from office -- did not constitute one of the "regularly scheduled committee meetings and Council meetings" specified in the agreement.
McAdam also had an answer for council members who claimed Johnson violated the agreement when he appeared to make conflicting statements about his guilt:
"I still say I did nothing wrong, but actually some of those incidents happened just like they said they did. So if that's the case, I guess I did something wrong. But I didn't do it."
The Council also argued in its violation notice that a Facebook post on Johnson's account the day he signed the agreement violated its terms because it brought "scorn or disrepute" to the office.
The post read as follows:
"I hope everyone has a great Friday and a good weekend! I won my battle at the council with your help and I appreciate it so much. I will continue to serve my neighborhood in the way I always have. Thank you."
In response McAdam wrote:
"Does it strike any reasonable person as fair and equitable that Councilman Johnson should be punished and removed from office for merely stating, 'I won my battle at the council...' while giving a pass to the previous vitriolic tirade leveled against the Council Court by the losers?"
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.