Darren Doyle, story and photos:
John Wayne Smith, democratic candidate for District 19 State Representative, announced he is remaining in the race today at a press conference held at the Brownsville Courthouse. He was indicted along with five others this past Monday for failing to report sex abuse at the Bluegrass Challenge Academy in Fort Knox while he was the academy's director. He denied the charge today as he addressed the media and a few spectators on hand.
"I am innocent of the charge filed against me which consists of one single misdemeanor count stemming from the alleged wrongdoing of another individual under my command while I served as director of Bluegrass Challenge Academy," as he read in a prepared statement.
He also said, "If anyone would think I'm going to be a puppet for the state democratic party, I would hope that these actions (remaining in the race and denying the charge) would remove that from your mind."
We asked Smith if he felt that the indictment was going to be a distraction for him throughout the remainder of the race. "This week has been a distraction," he replied. "The rest of this campaign will not be a distraction. I still need to meet voters, convince them who I am, just like I've convinced the many people who know me. I need to convince them that what is being said about me is false, and it will be proven false."
And as for how he will secure voter confidence in his ability to lead with a current indictment of failing to report sex abuse? "That's why I waited to have this press conference. I waited to see what the public opinion was going to be. We have been getting nothing but phone calls urging me to remain in the race...is it more difficult? Of course, it's more difficult."
He went on to comment about the alleged sex abuse at Bluegrass Challenge Academy and said that what the indictment says and what really happened are two different things. "When Jane Doe (the accused victim-a minor) testifies as to what actually happened, what the investigation tried to do...it was determined that nothing--nothing happened, when people see that-- versus what's alleged in the indictment, they'll wonder how did they get that incident out of that statement? And I'll be acquitted, too." He also said he is standing by the other five individuals that are facing the same indictment as he.
We caught up with his opponent, republican candidate and incumbent, Michael Meredith and asked his thoughts on Smith's current position. "Just like I've said in other interviews, I still think it would be inappropriate for me to comment about the situation," he said. "I have run a positive campaign, I feel good about the race, and I will continue running a positive race introducing myself to the voters and communicating with them about who I am, what I stand for, and why I want to continue representing the people of our district."