Politics & Government

‘It didn’t bother me.’ Julian Carroll waves at his alleged victim on Senate floor.

Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, filed a bill in Kentucky's 2018 General Assembly to set up a framework for sports betting but it was not considered.
Sen. Julian Carroll, D-Frankfort, filed a bill in Kentucky's 2018 General Assembly to set up a framework for sports betting but it was not considered. cbertram@herald-leader.com

The Senate had a special guest Thursday — the man who alleged state Sen. Julian Carroll groped him and propositioned him for sex in 2005.

Carroll, D-Frankfort, greeted the man as he was introduced on the Senate floor with a smile and a wave.

“It didn’t bother me,” Carroll said as he was leaving the chamber.

State Sen. Rick Girdler, R-Somerset, invited the son of Jason Geis to be his Senate page for the day after encountering him in a middle school in Lincoln County. In the usual introduction of guests, Girdler introduced the boy, saying he reminded the senator of his son. Then he introduced the boy’s father, Geis.

Girdler said he did not know the boy’s father was Carroll’s alleged victim. The boy and Geis have different last names.

“I had not a clue,” Girdler said.

The Herald-Leader was unable to speak with Geis.

The Senate Democratic Caucus removed Carroll, a former Kentucky governor, from his leadership post as Senate minority whip and called for his resignation from the legislature in July after Spectrum News reported that Carroll propositioned and groped the then-30-year-old Geis in 2005.

According to an audio recording obtained and aired by Spectrum News, Carroll had promised to help Geis get into art school in 2005, but instead Carroll asked Geis to masturbate him and perform oral sex on him. In an interview with Spectrum, Geis also alleged that Carroll groped him.

Carroll told Spectrum News the allegations were ridiculous and has since declined to talk about them.

The Kentucky Democratic Party and Republican Party of Kentucky were quick to denounce Carroll’s actions at the time, but did not call for his resignation.

“We are terribly concerned by the events described in the Pure Politics piece concerning Sen. Carroll,” Brad Bowman, spokesman for the Kentucky Democratic Party, said at the time. “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.”

The Kentucky State Police investigated Geis’ claims in 2005, but the Lincoln County Attorney decided not to prosecute.

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

In the months since the allegations aired, the calls for Carroll’s resignation have quieted. The story has been overshadowed by a secret sexual harassment settlement made by former House Speaker Jeff Hoover, R-Jamestown, and three other GOP House members with a legislative staffer and the suicide of Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Mount Washington, in December following allegations that he molested a 17-year-old girl.

Senate President Robert Stivers said Thursday there have been no discussions about removing Carroll from the Senate, saying he doubts the Senate has enough information about conduct for which they could dismiss him.

“However distasteful or abhorrent the conduct may have been it wasn’t illegal to what we have seen in a report,” said Stivers, R-Manchester. “Nothing was brought to me that he assaulted him. We have no indications that there was a misuse of his office or his position. No one has filed any type of formal complaint with the Senate President’s office or the LRC.”

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