Kevin Johnson Faces Pressure to Resign as Mayor Amid Allegations of Molestation

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2015

FILE - In this Feb. 22, 2012, file photo, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson smiles during a news conference in Sacramento, Calif. Johnson, 48, has been on a winning streak keeping the Sacramento Kings from relocating to Seattle, serving as the new leader of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and representing the NBA players in the Sterling scandal surrounding Los Angeles Clippers Donald Sterling.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press

In 1996, Mandi Koba walked into the Phoenix Police Department and described an inappropriate sexual relationship she said she had with then-Phoenix Suns guard Kevin Johnson. After years of Johnson's denials regarding the allegations, Dave McKenna of Deadspin acquired the police video in which Koba offers her account of events.  

Kerri Asbury, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Sacramento County, told Ryan Lillis of the Sacramento Bee she believes Johnson should resign from his position as mayor. 

"At a minimum, I think he needs to not seek re-election," Asbury said, per Lillis. "I feel the integrity of the mayor's office has been broken."

"It's unfortunate that stories like this continue to come forward," Johnson said, per Lillis. "When I ran for mayor [in 2008], I knew these were all going to be a part of fair play. Politics is a game that throws out dirty things along the way, and you've got to take hits on the chin."   

But Johnson backers have begun distancing themselves from him. ESPN has indefinitely delayed its 30 for 30 film Down in the Valley, which prominently features Johnson's role in keeping the Kings from moving away from Sacramento. The film was originally scheduled to air Oct. 20. No new release date has been set.

In the police video, which was taken while Koba was still a minor, she accuses Johnson of "lying naked with her, fondling her breasts and vagina, lathering soap on her in the shower, brushing his penis against her, and asking her to pray to God for forgiveness with him and promise not to tell anyone about what they'd done," according to McKenna.

This is far from the first time these allegations have come up in public discourse in recent years. Johnson has become a rising star in the political world, and he was instrumental in the push to keep the Sacramento Kings in the city and has served as a leader of the United States Conference of Mayors. 

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However, Johnson's political rise has also brought these allegations back to light. Originally reported by Paul Rubin of the Phoenix New Times in May 1997, Koba's allegations largely stayed beneath the surface for nearly two decades. McKenna's detailed report on Johnson deserves a chunk of the credit for bringing the allegations to the forefront, as does Koba's increasing willingness to talk about the alleged sexual abuse.

"I just felt like I wasn't doing anything but protecting him," Koba told McKenna in September. "Part of the way they got me to go along with the agreement was they told me it would protect me from his attorneys saying mean things about me. Well, I'm a grown-up now. They can say mean things about me if they want."

Johnson has consistently denied any wrongdoing and was never charged with a crime. Earlier this yearEstrellita Ilee Muller, a former employee of the Sacramento city manager's office, said Johnson sexually harassed her in 2013.

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.


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