John Wayne Smith, Democratic Candidate For Dist 19 State Rep, Found Guilty Of Failing To Report Child Abuse
Edmonson Voice Staff
John Wayne Smith, democratic candidate for District 19 State Representative, retired Colonel in the Kentucky National Guard, and the former Director of Bluegrass Challenge Academy was found guilty last week in U.S. Magistrate Court of failing to report child abuse, announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
Smith, a Smiths Grove resident, is currently running against current republican Rep. Michael Lee Meredith from Brownsville.
Following a three-day trial, a federal jury deliberated approximately two hours before finding John Wayne Smith, 65, guilty of the charge.
Smith was charged in a federal superseding indictment on April 22, 2015, with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 2258.
On October 2, 2014, Smith denied the allegations in a statement to the Edmonson Voice, while at that time, he was a democratic candidate for the 2014 State Representative race. While several democrats urged him to drop from the election, Smith remained in the race where he was defeated by Rep. Meredith. Smith gathered only 37.6% of the vote compared to Meredith's 62.4%.
According to the evidence presented at trial, from 2003 to December 2013, Smith was the Director of Bluegrass Challenge Academy, a quasi-military school for students at-risk of not finishing high school. The Academy is located on Fort Knox military base.
The charges said that in early-February 2013, Smith learned that a 17-year-old female student at the Academy had alleged Stephen Miller, one of the staff members, forced her to engage in inappropriate sexual contact.
Charges also stated that around the same time that Smith also learned that another female student had accused Miller of touching her inappropriately. There was an internal investigation and Miller was reprimanded, but continued to work at the school, where his office was on the same hall where the female cadets showered and slept. Smith did not report the matter to law enforcement or child protective services. Law enforcement only became aware of the allegations through the investigation of an August 2013 incident, in which another female student accused a staff member of further sexual abuse.
In July 2015, Stephen Miller pled guilty to conduct related to both February 2013 incidents, as well as the August 2013 incident. Before Smith hired Miller to work with female students at the Academy, Miller worked as a police officer in Leitchfield, Kentucky. He resigned the position following complaints of inappropriate conduct toward two women. On February 1, 2016, Miller was sentenced to 48 months for conduct related to four separate incidents at the Academy.
Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on May 19, 2016. He faces a sentence of up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
On January 26, 2016, Smith filed to run again for District 19 Representative against Rep. Michael Lee Meredith, which will be held in November of this year.
Meredith had no comment on the guilty verdict.
A statement made on Smith's Facebook page said, "As I now await sentencing, or the potential for an appeal in the case, I still can say nothing else regarding the case! Others involved, or not involved, are under no such restrictions! Please reserve any final personal judgement you may be feeling until such time as you hear the entire story!"
Assistant United States Attorneys Amanda E. Gregory and Stephanie M. Zimdahl are prosecuting the case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with assistance from the Army Criminal Investigation Division conducted the investigation.