A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Gov. Bevin’s comments that school closures led to sexual assault, poisoning of children, draw ire

NKyTribune staff

Reaction was swift and critical to comments made late Friday by Gov. Matt Bevin that protests in Frankfort by Kentucky teachers, which resulted in the closure of more than 30 school districts, led to sexual assault and poisoning of children.

Gov. Bevin (LRC photo)

Thousands of teachers were on hand Friday as the Kentucky General Assembly began the last two days of its regular session.

Bevin made the comments at an impromptu press conference following a day that saw the Kentucky Legislature override three of his vetoes, including a spending plan that will result in new money for education.

“You know how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone? I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home, because there was nobody there to watch them,” Bevin said in a widely disseminated video. “I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone, because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.  I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.

“Children were harmed, some physically, some sexually, some were introduced to drugs for the first time, because they were vulnerable and left alone.  It’s offensive, frankly.”

The Kentucky Democratic Caucus responded to Bevin’s comments with the following statement, released Saturday:

“The statements made by Governor Bevin yesterday insinuating that Kentucky teachers are somehow responsible for sexual assault, drug addiction, and neglect is reprehensible and repugnant. Time and time again we hear this demeaning rhetoric spewed, attacking our public educators and public employees.  The Kentucky Senate Democratic Caucus condemns these types of demeaning and degrading statements directed at our teachers and public employees by the Governor.”

Beshear

Attorney General Andy Beshear, chair of the Kentucky Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Prevention Board, also blasted Bevin for the comments in a statement:

 “Gov. Bevin’s comments last night saying teachers rallying in Frankfort led to children being sexually abused are morally reprehensible and must be condemned by all Kentuckians. The Office of the Attorney General fights every day to protect our children and has arrested a record number of predators and human traffickers. Our prevention training efforts have reached more than 3,000 Kentuckians. If we want to create a world without child abuse, we cannot tolerate the governor’s comments.”

Some Republicans also criticized Bevin’s remarks.

Sen. Max Wise, R – Campbellsville posted this comment to social media:

“The disgusting comments by Gov. Bevin insinuating that a peaceful protest by teachers would lead to sexual assault are reprehensible.  I don’t agree with these comments and I find them repulsive.  I disagreed with his radio comments about teachers before, and I disagree with these.”

Bevin has not yet responded publicly to the criticism.

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