Politics & Government

Bevin: ‘I guarantee’ a child was sexually assaulted because teachers attended protest

Gov. Matt Bevin, asked Friday about teachers leaving the classrooms to attend a protest rally in Frankfort, said, “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”

Louisville’s WDRB-TV interviewed Bevin outside the Capitol Friday about the rally.

In the interview, Bevin said, “This is what’s crazy to me. Do you know how many hundreds of thousands of children today were left home alone?

He then added that consequently a child in Kentucky was sexually assaulted. He added that he guaranteed a child was “physically assaulted or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn’t have any money to take care of them.”

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler said Friday night she was appalled at Bevin’s comment.

“There are no words,” Winkler said. “My mouth was hanging open and I don’t even know what I can tell you.”

House Speaker Pro Tempore David Osborne, who has criticized Bevin’s comments about teachers in the past, remained silent on the governor’s comments.

“I’m not going to comment on something I’m just hearing about,” he said.

The Republican governor has been a sharp critic of the Kentucky Education Association in recent weeks as the group has protested his pension reform bill that he signed into law this week.

“It’s entirely inappropriate and perverse that the man sitting in the governorship would criticize Kentuckians who stood up today for teachers, public employees and our public education by insinuating that their presence in Frankfort today caused a child to be sexually assaulted,” Kentucky Democratic Party Executive Director Mary Nishimuta said. “His insults of teachers over the last year have been beneath the decorum of any respectable elected official. This rhetoric has crossed a line. As a mother, suggesting children were abused as a prop for his political rhetoric is disturbing and absurdly in poor taste.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear, along with the KEA and the Fraternal Order of Police, have filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court challenging the new law.

Thousands of teachers attended a protest rally Friday at the Capitol. More than 30 school districts across the state closed schools for the rally.

Bevin told WDRB that he was “offended by the idea that people so cavalierly and so flippantly disregarded what’s truly best for children.”

He said many parents could not afford to miss work Friday, especially in rural areas, and so their children were left unattended “and some of them in communities where people knew that for a fact and took advantage of it .”

He said surely some children were physically and sexually assaulted and were introduced to drugs for the first time.

“It’s offensive. Frankly. It really is,” said Bevin. “If you want to write a story, that’s the kind of things you guys should talk about.”

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

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader