Edmonson Voice Staff
Democratic candidate for Kentucky State Representative District 19 and Smiths Grove resident John Wayne Smith, has been charged by a grand jury with failing to report sexual abuse as a school officer at Bluegrass Challenge Academy in Fort Knox. Stephen E. Miller, 44, Leitchfield, was charged with engaging in sexual contact with three students, including aggravated sexual abuse with one student and attempting to threaten or intimidate the third student to prevent her from reporting the matter to law enforcement.
Smiths website, JohnWayneSmith.org, says he was the director at the school from 2003 through December of 2013. The alleged incidents happened between February and August of 2013. The grand jury also charged other school officials, Leroy Burgess, Jr., Kemmye S. Graves, Rolanshia Windom, Rita Carthen, and Gabriel Onusko with failing to report the first incident of abuse to law enforcement officials, as required by federal law.
Smith released this statement earlier today:
“I AM SHOCKED BY THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF CHARGES OF FAILURE TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE AGAINST ME AND FORMER STAFF. AS OF THIS MOMENT, I HAVE RECEIVED NO OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF THE CHARGES. THE ANNOUNCEMENT SEEMS TO COMBINE BOTH SETS OF CHARGES UNDER ONE EVENT AND THIS IS NOT THE CASE. I WILL FIGHT TO PROVE MY INNOCENCE AND STAND BY THOSE FORMER EMPLOYEES WHO ARE ALSO CHARGED WITH THIS MISDEMEANOR. I APPRECIATE YOUR PRAYERS FOR ALL INVOLVED.”
His republican opponent, Brownsville resident Michael Meredith said, "At this point, all I know is what I've seen in the news, so I feel that it would be inappropriate and premature of me to make a judgement or jump to conclusions. However, these are serious allegations in relation to a terrible situation and they do raise some questions that the citizens of our area deserve to have answered."
Smith said he would not give any further comment until he had finished discussions with his family and counsel.
Note: An indictment is a formal charge by a grand jury and is not an indication of guilt.