Politics & Government

Democrats remove Sen. Julian Carroll from leadership, call for his resignation

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort
Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort File

The Senate Democratic Caucus voted to remove former governor and current state Sen. Julian Carroll as minority whip on Sunday and called on him to resign following a TV report that Carroll propositioned and allegedly groped a then-30-year-old man in 2005.

The fallout continued from Saturday when the story first broke on Spectrum News Pure Politics, as both state political parties expressed concern about the allegations.

“In light of recent media reports, the Senate Democratic Caucus has voted to remove Senator Carroll from his leadership position as minority whip,” Senate Democrats said in a statement. “The Senate Democratic Caucus calls on Senator Carroll to resign his Kentucky State Senate seat, immediately.”

On Saturday night, Brad Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party released this statement: “We are terribly concerned by the events described in the Pure Politics piece concerning Sen. Carroll. While we acknowledge and greatly appreciate Sen. Carroll’s life-long career of public service, we cannot overlook the severity of these allegations and take them seriously.”

In 2005 Carroll told Jason Geis he would help him get into art school, according to the report Saturday night by Spectrum News Pure Politics. But instead of helping Geis get into school, Carroll propositioned him for sex, Spectrum reported.

“This is an extremely disturbing case and we hope a full investigation is conducted into both the actions of Senator Carroll and whether or not Frankfort politicians used their influence to alter the path of the investigation,” said Tres Watson, the spokesman for the Republican Party of Kentucky.

“What matters is that it is clear that the victim feels these are the facts and his allegations deserve a further examination,” Watson added.

On Sunday, Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said, “This is a sensitive and serious issue that should not be ignored, and our caucus is still in the process of reviewing the facts and collecting further information on this story.”

Carroll, who is 86 and the Democratic senator from Frankfort, couldn’t be reached for comment on Sunday.

According to a recording obtained and aired by Spectrum, Carroll asked Geis to masturbate him and perform oral sex on him. In an interview with Spectrum, Geis also alleged that Carroll groped him.

When approached in a hallway in the Capitol by Spectrum reporter Nick Storm, Carroll denied the allegations. “It is ridiculous,” said Carroll. “It did not happen.”

Spectrum obtained a copy of a Kentucky State Police investigation into the matter, including a letter indicating that the Lincoln County Attorney decided not to prosecute the case.

“Without proof of more than a request for sexual contact, I do not believe a criminal case could or should be sought,” the letter from April 2005 said.

Carroll was married and had four children at the time.

As to why the recording is surfacing publicly now, Spectrum pointed to an article last August by Washington D.C.-based Roll Call about Kentucky’s 2016 U.S. Senate race. In that article, Carroll was interviewed about whether Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s sexual orientation mattered in the Senate race. In that interview, Carroll was asked whether he thought being gay is a choice.

“I know my Christian friends don’t approve of it,” Carroll told Roll Call. “And quite frankly, it’s not a choice I choose to make.”

He added: “You can choose to ask God to convert you and heal you of that choice.”

Staff Writers Linda Blackford and Jack Brammer contributed to this report.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics

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