Politics & Government

Democrats waiting on word from Julian Carroll after calling for him to resign

Sen. Julian Carroll
Sen. Julian Carroll File

Senate Minority Leader Ray Jones said Monday he still had not heard from state Sen. Julian Carroll on Senate Democrats’ vote Sunday to remove him from leadership and call for him to resign following a TV report that Carroll made unwanted sexual advances toward another man.

“We have tried to reach out to him but have been unable to do so,” said Jones, D-Pikeville. “We cannot force him to resign but we believe that is the correct thing for him to do.”

The Senate Democratic Caucus’ action Sunday came after cable TV station Spectrum News Pure Politics reported Saturday night that Carroll, who was governor from 1974 to 1979 and has been a member of the Senate since 2005, allegedly groped a then 30-year-old man and propositioned him for sex in 2005.

The TV station released an interview in which photographer Jason Geis, who worked in Frankfort but lives near Danville, said Carroll groped him. Spectrum also produced an audio recording Geis said he made at his home. Spectrum reported that the tape recorded a conversation in which Carroll asked Geis to masturbate him and perform oral sex on him.

Carroll, 86, denied the allegations to the TV station. The state senator from Frankfort who is the Democratic whip in the Senate has not returned repeated phone calls Sunday and Monday from the Herald-Leader.

Spectrum reported that Geis brought the matter to state police in February 2005 but John Hackley, who then was the Lincoln County attorney, said in April 2015 that he saw no violation of state law “without strong proof of more than a request for sexual content.”

Hackley could not be reached for comment Monday.

Greg Stumbo, a Democrat who was attorney general in 2005, said Monday that his office was not involved in the state police investigation.

“We didn’t know anything about that,” said Stumbo, who also is a former speaker of the state House. He noted that his office was heavily involved at that time in investigating hiring practices in the administration of then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Stumbo said he did not hear about any investigative case involving Carroll until the Spectrum report.

Spectrum reported Monday that Geis said he talked to state police and the Kentucky Bureau of Investigations, a law-enforcement division in Stumbo’s office led by current Louisville Metro Council member David James.

James told Spectrum that he did not recall a Carroll investigation.

Senate Democratic leader Jones would not say Monday if he has talked to Carroll since the Spectrum report was first aired.

He said he held a telephone conference call Sunday with the party caucus, which has a total of 11 members, to “discuss what our response should be.” The Senate has 38 members.

“The caucus, after hearing the audio recording, decided unanimously to take the action we did. Some may criticize us for reacting too hastily but the recording sure did sound like Sen. Carroll’s voice. We were shocked and dismayed.”

The Democratic caucus would like to hear from Carroll soon, Jones said.

“We were specific in that we removed him from leadership and called on him to resign immediately.”

If Carroll should resign, a special election would be held to fill the remainder of his four-year term, which ends Dec. 31, 2019. Carroll’s 7th District seat is up for election next year. It includes all or parts of Franklin, Anderson, Gallatin, Owen and Woodford counties.

The governor must call for the special election if the General Assembly is not in session. The presiding officer in the house where the vacancy happened must call for an election if lawmakers are in session. All nominating deadlines for special elections are 49 days before the election.

Jack Brammer: (502) 227-1198, @BGPolitics