Former Democratic Lawmaker Arrested on First-Degree Rape Charge


A longtime Democratic legislator in Kentucky who became secretary of the state’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has been charged with first-degree rape.

John Tilley pleaded not guilty during a court appearance on Tuesday.

Tilley is accused of having sex with a woman who was too intoxicated to give consent, WKYT-TV in Lexington reported.

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The incident allegedly took place at a downtown Lexington hotel on April 15.

The 53-year-old Tilley was arrested on Monday morning in Lexington after turning himself in, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

He posted a $25,000 cash bond that evening, and his legal team said he was cooperating with authorities.

“Mr. Tilley maintains his innocence of any criminal wrongdoing and has fully cooperated in the investigation. He respects the court process and will have no further comment at this time,” attorneys Christopher Spedding and Steve Schroering said in a statement, according to the Herald-Leader.

Tilley was elected as a Democratic state representative in 2006 and served five terms, WKYT reported.

During that time, he sponsored a criminal justice reform bill in 2011 to reduce the number of people incarcerated for low-level drug convictions, the Louisville Courier Journal reported.

In 2015, Tilley was appointed secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet by then-Gov. Matt Bevin, a Republican.

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“He will bring a high level of passion and innovation to this role,” Bevin said at the time, according to WDRB-TV.

Tilley served there through 2019, overseeing the Kentucky State Police as well as the state’s departments of correction and juvenile justice, the Courier Journal reported.

One of his accomplishments in that post was to put a new rape kit law in place to help in sexual assault investigations.

This allowed the State Police to start using new rapid DNA tests for rape kits so there wouldn’t be a backlog for testing evidence in the forensic lab.

“In Kentucky, we believe in justice,” Tilley said in 2019, according to the Courier Journal. “Regardless of where you live, or work or play in the state, you should expect to be safe from crimes of sexual assault.”

He is a senior fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice, a Washington-based national think tank whose website says Tilley “has spent nearly three decades working for a more fair, just, and effective criminal justice system.”

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