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Bevin tries again to explain claim that teacher protests caused child sexual assaults

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Bevin tries again to explain claim that teacher protests caused child sexual assaults

By Jack Brammer
Lexington Herald-Leader

FRANKFORT - Gov. Matt Bevin revisited Tuesday the firestorm he created last weekend when he linked teacher protests to the sexual assault of children.

Bevin said he simply was trying to make the point that "when children are left home alone, that's not healthy."

He acknowledged that he "clearly did not communicate that well" and "a lot of people were hurt and angered by that." He added that he was "sincerely apologetic to folks like that."

Bevin was asked about his controversial comments at a news conference to announce personnel changes at the Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development.

Bevin told reporters Friday that children left alone were vulnerable to sexual and physical assault and exposure to drugs and poison because teachers left the classrooms to protest in Frankfort about education funding.

"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," Bevin said Friday.

The comments drew national and international headlines, especially after the Republican-led House passed resolutions condemning the remarks of the Republican governor.

On Sunday, Bevin said there was "a misunderstanding." He thanked people he said understood what he was trying to say and apologized to those who "have been hurt by the things that were said."

Many people questioned the sincerity of his apology and said there was no confusion about what he really meant with his original comments.

Bevin, who noted that he has four children in public school, said Tuesday there is "an impact" when children are left alone.

"Does anyone in this state, does anyone in this room, believe if you leave thousands and thousands of children home alone with no one watching them, that that's good?" asked Bevin.

He said he understood many children in school on free lunches did not get their meals for the weekend since dozens of Kentucky school districts were closed on Friday.

He also said that in other states where teachers have walked out of classrooms for an extended period of time, "many, many people lost their jobs because they said they wanted to stay home" with their children.

Bevin repeated that no Kentucky governor has ever put as much money into the state's public pension systems and that he provided more money in his first 2 1/2 years in office than his predecessor, Democrat Steve Beshear, did in his eight years in office.

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