Kentucky Governor Apologizes for Blaming Teacher Protests for Sexual Assault of Children

by | April 16, 2018

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears

Gov. Matt Bevin apologized Sunday for saying that teacher protests probably led to the sexual assault of children.

Bevin's comments on Friday had led House lawmakers from both parties to pass resolutions condemning the remarks.

"I hurt a lot of people... I apologize for those who have been hurt by the things that were said," Bevin said on his YouTube and Twitter page Sunday.

Bevin said that was not his intent.

"It is my responsibility to represent you, not only when I'm speaking to you but also when I'm speaking on your behalf. It is not my intent to hurt anyone ... but to help us all move forward. We need each other. We're in this together."

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."

Forty four of the 63 Republicans in the House signed on to a resolution condemning Bevin's statements on Saturday.

His comments Friday were the latest in a long string of comments teachers have found insulting, but Sunday marked the first time he attempted to apologize.

House Republicans have said they see his comments as exacerbating the already complicated debate over teacher pensions, leading to the thousands of teachers that have descended on the Capitol in recent days.

In his apology, Bevin said," I appreciate so much that has been done in recent days and weeks as we've tried to get both our economic house in order but to make sure that we shore up the very pension system that currently is the worst funded in the United States of America. But we can't be so consumed with the financial that we fail to appreciate the ripple effect of the real people that are involved. The responsibility for communicating things falls on the person in large measure who is doing the speaking. Sometimes when I am doing that I do it effectively, sometimes not so much and I think this case is such an example of the latter."

Bevin said he had teachers in his family and knew it was not an easy task.

He thanked other public workers.

Bevin said some people misunderstood his words.

Bevin's comments drew both praise and criticism from people on social media.

Tom Shelton, director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, responded by saying on Twitter that " when you tell someone else they misunderstood, it's not an apology. If you're contrite and seek reconciliation, indicate that you misspoke or didn't communicate well. One should own the problem in a real apology. Each person's perception of what they heard is their reality."

State Rep. James Kay, D-Versailles, said in a tweet: "Hey Everyone, we got it cleared up. The Governor is sorry you misunderstood him. He was right, you were wrong, but if that hurt your feelings, he's sorry.}

(c)2018 the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)