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A former Democratic lawmaker from Kentucky who was once in charge of the state’s prison system under then-Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is now facing a very serious allegation.
According to local reports, former state Rep. John Tilley was charged on Monday with first-degree rape following “a Special Victims Investigation that occurred earlier this year,” the Lexington Police Department said.
“At this time, it is still an ongoing investigation,” spokesperson Hannah Sloan told the Courier-Journal newspaper.
The report said that on Monday Tilley, 53, was being held at the Lexington-Fayette County jail, per the facility’s online database.
The former lawmaker’s attorneys, Steve Schroering and Chris Spedding, insist that their client is innocent and that he voluntarily turned himself into authorities on Monday in Lexington.
“John Tilley maintains his innocence of the criminal charges and has cooperated with the investigation,” Schroering said, according to the local outlet. “He respects the judicial process and has no further comment at this time.”
New: Longtime former Kentucky state representative, Bevin cabinet member John Tilley arrested in Lexington on rape charge https://t.co/Zugc1NueNV via @WDRBNews
— Marcus Green (@MarcusGreenWDRB) August 8, 2022
Former Kansas state lawmaker John Tilley, a five-term Democrat who previously served as secretary of the state’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, was charged Monday with first-degree rape in relation to an April 15 incident. https://t.co/8PL6qABKGZ
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) August 8, 2022
The report continued:
Tilley spent four years working as secretary of Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet during Bevin’s term as governor from December 2015 through 2019.
In that role, Tilley oversaw the Kentucky State Police and the state departments of corrections and juvenile justice, among other government operations.
As secretary, Tilley helped implement a new rape kit law on the handling of evidence in sexual assault investigations, intended to reduce a long backlog in the testing of such evidence by the Kentucky State Police forensic laboratory.
A 2019 Kentucky State Police press release 2019 pertaining to the department’s use of the new rapid DNA tests in rape kits noted: “In Kentucky, we believe in justice. Regardless of where you live, or work or play in the state, you should expect to be safe from crimes of sexual assault.”
Before he took the cabinet post in Bevin’s administration, Tilley had been elected to five terms as a Democrat from Hopkinsville. While serving in the state legislature, he also did a stint as chair of the House Judiciary Committee, the Courier-Journal reported.
“Tilley was a lead sponsor of a landmark criminal justice reform bill passed in 2011 to reduce the number of Kentucky state inmates incarcerated for low-level drug convictions,” the report continued. “He currently is listed as a senior fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice, a national criminal justice reform group.
“In the 2022 session of the Kentucky General Assembly, Tilley served as a legislative lobbyist for Pace-O-Matic — a maker of slot-like ‘gray machines’ — and Lifeskills, Inc., a behavioral mental health provider that contracts with the state,” the paper added.
A number of other Democratic officials have gotten into legal trouble in recent months as well.
In April, New York Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin surrendered to authorities on a charge of campaign finance fraud. He was formerly charged with bribery, fraud, and falsification of records while a state senator, The New York Times reported:
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who selected Mr. Benjamin to be her lieutenant governor less than a year ago, announced that he was stepping down immediately “while the legal process plays out.”
“It is clear to both of us that he cannot continue to serve as lieutenant governor,” she wrote in a statement.
In July, federal prosecutors urged a judge to reject Benjamin’s motion to dismiss the case because they argued that the evidence supports the allegations.
“The indictment, the result of an investigation by the F.B.I. and the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, accused Mr. Benjamin of conspiring to direct state funds to a Harlem real estate investor in exchange for orchestrating thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Mr. Benjamin’s unsuccessful 2021 campaign for New York City comptroller, the people said,” the Times noted at the time of the former Lt. governor’s resignation. “The investor was arrested on federal charges in November.”
In May, one of the most prominent Democratic officials in California resigned amid a growing corruption probe.
Melahat Rafiei announced she is resigning from her position as the secretary of the California Democratic Party and State Representative to the Democratic National Committee.
“Rafiei had been under increasing scrutiny to quit after reports recently surfaced that she had been arrested by the FBI in 2019 for an alleged bribery scheme. She has not been charged,” FOX11 in Los Angeles reported.