Former top Democratic official in Kentucky, ex-Rep. John Tilley, charged with first-degree rape

A prominent former Democratic lawmaker in Kentucky who previously held a position of authority over the state’s prison system may soon find himself incarcerated within that same system.

Former state Rep. John Tilley (D), who served four years as secretary of Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, has been charged with one count of first-degree rape, the Conservative Brief reported.

The Democratic lawmaker who served five terms in the state House prior to overseeing the state’s prison system has maintained that he is innocent of the allegation against him.

Turned himself in on a rape charge

Local media outlet WDRB reported that Tilley turned himself in Monday morning and was subsequently booked into the Lexington-Fayette County jail on a single charge of first-degree rape for an incident that allegedly occurred earlier this year.

According to an arrest warrant, Tilley is alleged to have had sex with a victim who was too intoxicated to provide consent on April 15.

“Mr. Tilley maintains his innocence of the criminal charges and has fully cooperated with the investigation,” one of his attorneys, Steve Schroering, said in a statement. “He respects the judicial process and will have no further comment at this time.”

Bonded out, pleaded not guilty

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Lexington Police Department spokeswoman Hannah Sloan said that Tilley had been charged “regarding a Special Victims Investigation that occurred this year,” and added, “At this time, it is still an ongoing investigation.”

After turning himself in and being booked into jail, Tilley was released later in the day after posting a $25,000 bond and was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday for an arraignment hearing.

Local ABC affiliate WTVQ reported that Tilley waived his right to a preliminary hearing and lodged a plea of not guilty during that Tuesday hearing. His next hearing is scheduled for August 26.

Implemented new rape kits, crackdown on sexual assaults

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that, during his five terms as a Democratic lawmaker, Tilley had served as chair of the House Judiciary Committee in the state legislature. It is what he did during his four-year tenure as head of the state’s justice and prison system that has struck some as rather ironic, though.

The Courier-Journal noted that Tilley oversaw the implementation of new rape kits to help reduce the backlog of alleged rape and sexual assault cases, and said in a statement in 2019, “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.”

Tilley may be about to find out firsthand what justice in his state for “crimes of sexual assault” actually looks like now.

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