Ex-Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin defends pardon of convicted child rapist

December 21, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin on Thursday defended his controversial last-minute pardon of a man convicted of raping a 9-year-old, saying there was no physical evidence of her abuse.

Bevin’s comments came during a radio interview that focused mainly on the case of Micah Schoettle, 41.

Bevin, a father of nine children, was asked how he could defend Schoettle. The former governor replied the victim had been examined and there were no physical signs of rape.

“There was zero evidence,” Bevin said.

Bevin also revealed publicly for the first time the victim’s relationship to Schoettle and said that the victim’s sister was present during the alleged assaults. The sister has denied the assaults took place, Bevin said.

“Both their hymens were intact. This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me. If you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically,” Bevin said.

Bevin’s claim is flatly incorrect, Dr. George Nichols, who was Kentucky’s chief medical examiner for 20 years and later started the child abuse evaluation system at Kosair Children’s Hospital, told The Courier Journal.

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“Rape is not proved by hymen penetration,” Nichols said. “Rape is proved by phallic penetration … where the vaginal lips meet the outer surface of the vagina.

“He not only doesn’t know the law, in my humble opinion, he clearly doesn’t know medicine and anatomy.”

According to Forensic Science International, a peer-reviewed journal, a survey of pediatric child abuse rape cases indicated that only 2.1% of subjects examined had visible lesions on the hymen.

Kenton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rob Sanders, who prosecuted the 2018 case against Schoettle and has called for an investigation into Bevin’s pardon, criticized the former governor’s comments by saying he “is ignorant of the medicine and science in child rape cases.”

“Even the defense experts testified they would not expect to find an injury in the victim’s sexual assault exam,” Sanders said in a text message. “This was the subject of an eight-hour court hearing Matt Bevin obviously never watched.”

Schoettle was found guilty of rape, sodomy and other sexual crimes and sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2018.

Schoettle isn’t the only convicted child rapist who found support from Bevin.

During his final weeks in office, Bevin also pardoned Paul Donel Hurt, who was serving a life sentence for sexually abusing and sodomizing a 6-year-old girl 20 years ago. The former governor’s order stated that he was wrongly convicted, an opinion shared by the former judge who tried his case and sentenced him.

In the radio interview, Bevin again turned the blame on prosecutors, calling on them to “look at the facts.”

“If they can defend keeping an innocent person in jail, that’s their prerogative,” Bevin said of prosecutors. “In America, I’m all for innocent people not being incarcerated.”

Bevin went on to defend his pardon of convicted killer Patrick Baker.

Baker was sentenced to 19 years in prison, convicted of reckless homicide, robbery and impersonating a peace officer when he and two accomplices invaded the Knox County home of Donald Mills.

The Courier Journal was the first to report that Baker’s brother and sister-in-law hosted a political fundraiser for Bevin at their Corbin home on July 26, 2018, where they raised $21,500 to retire debt from the governor’s 2015 campaign.

Baker’s case also got the attention of GOP mega-donor Terry Forcht.

The founder of Corbin-based Forcht Bank has given more than $1 million to Republican candidates, committees and super PACs over the past decade, state and federal campaign records show.

Letters show Forcht twice recommended Baker for a pardon and Bevin obliged, over the advice of former state Rep. Denny Butler, an investigator looking into Baker’s case on Bevin’s behalf, The Courier Journal previously reported.

In Thursday’s radio interview, Bevin acknowledged that Forcht’s opinions carry more weight because of the money he contributes, but said Forcht gives to non-political causes, as well, and shouldn’t be vilified for having an opinion in favor of Baker.

Bevin said Baker wasn’t involved in the actual killing of Mills, despite the fact that prosecutors argued to jurors that Baker was the one who shot and killed Mills.

Instead, Bevin pointed his finger at prosecutors, adding that Baker himself wouldn’t call for a federal investigation into his case if he were guilty.

Bevin pardons: Kentucky lawmakers call for investigation

Bevin previously told The Courier Journal that county prosecutors, who are the fiercest critics of his pardons, may end up as the ones investigated and prosecuted if federal investigators get involved.

“If the truth comes out, there will be people involved in this process on the other side of the equation that have very good reason to be very concerned right now,” Bevin told The Courier Journal. “And some of them are the loudest people right now, and for good reason.”

In Thursday’s radio interview, Bevin said he wouldn’t, if given the opportunity, reconsider any of the pardons he issued and, indeed, wished he had time to review more cases.

The criminal justice system isn’t flawless, Bevin said, adding that he approached then-Attorney General Andy Beshear with the idea of creating a special “sentencing integrity unit,” but that Beshear rejected it.

Beshear defeated Bevin in the race for governor last month.

State Rep. Adam Koenig, a Republican from Kenton County, told The Courier Journal if Matt Bevin “really cares about the conservative causes he fought for for four years, he needs to shut up and go away. He is becoming a bat with which the Democrats are going to beat many candidates coming up over the years.”

And Koenig added: “I would advise any male politician to eliminate the word ‘hymen’ from their vocabulary.”

Follow Alfred Miller on Twitter @AlfredFMiller; follow Joe Sonka on Twitter at @joesonka.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Matt Bevin: Former governor defends child-rape pardon in interview