8 episodes

In 2016, Danny Ray Johnson was elected to state office. The fast talking biker-preacher known as "The Pope" paints himself as a 9/11 hero. He says he raised the dead! But our seven month investigation uncovered a much different picture: Attempted arson. Another mysterious fire. Alleged bootlegging and molestation in the church. For years, Johnson broke laws. Now he helps make them. What happens when the institutions we rely on look the other way? How does a liar slip through the cracks into a position of power? This six-part series attempts to find out. From Louisville Public Media.+

The Pope's Long Con Louisville Public Media

    • News
    • 4.7 • 39 Ratings

In 2016, Danny Ray Johnson was elected to state office. The fast talking biker-preacher known as "The Pope" paints himself as a 9/11 hero. He says he raised the dead! But our seven month investigation uncovered a much different picture: Attempted arson. Another mysterious fire. Alleged bootlegging and molestation in the church. For years, Johnson broke laws. Now he helps make them. What happens when the institutions we rely on look the other way? How does a liar slip through the cracks into a position of power? This six-part series attempts to find out. From Louisville Public Media.+

    Check Out Our New Investigative Podcast, Dig

    Check Out Our New Investigative Podcast, Dig

    From the newsroom that brought you the Pope’s Long Con, check out our newest podcast, Dig. In the first season, we bring you the results of a yearlong look at how rape cases are investigated in Louisville. What we’ve learned: here, the police defer to prosecutors on rape cases — and prosecutors reject the vast majority of cases presented to them. Due to this unusual relationship, most people accused of rape here will never face consequences. Most won’t be arrested or convicted. And the case will be closed anyway.
    (Note: There are descriptions of a rape, and audio from a police body camera on the scene of a rape investigation, throughout this episode.)
    For more, visit kydig.org.

    • 25 min
    The Pope's Wife

    The Pope's Wife

    We knew the story wasn't over at the end of the last chapter — but no one could've known what would happen next.

    • 16 min
    When Our Institutions Fail

    When Our Institutions Fail

    Over and over, there were warning signs for law enforcement, political leaders and others. What happens when the institutions we rely on look the other way? How does a liar slip through the cracks into a position of power?

    • 16 min
    An Accusation Of Molestation

    An Accusation Of Molestation

    A teenage girl thought of Johnson as a second dad. Her family trusted the pastor. But in 2013, he allegedly molested her. Hear her story. And listen to Johnson's extraordinary response.

    • 15 min
    An Empire Built On Blind Faith

    An Empire Built On Blind Faith

    Go inside the Heart of Fire Church and meet the motorcycle-friendly congregation and gun choir. Check out the fellowship hall — or biker bar — and learn more about Johnson's dark past.

    • 19 min
    From Bastrop To Bullitt

    From Bastrop To Bullitt

    Like Forrest Gump, "The Pope" just so happens to be in the front row, playing a pivotal role in America’s biggest moments. Time after time. Decade after decade. He's held some of the country's loftiest titles. Or not. In this episode, find out about his early days, his first brush with the law and his alligator. Yes, his alligator!

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
39 Ratings

39 Ratings

scruffypantz ,

Exposed

Good to hear this man’s deceit exposed. A true wolf in sheep’s clothing. Short episodes, the man’s own words & the responses of those who have the actual information, such as the University where he supposedly earned his ‘doctorate’. Good investigative work. We are each responsible for our own actions & for a ‘man of faith’ to make his final decision shows how hollow his words & being were.

Amirapigglet ,

Another great example of who the system fails

Great investigation done, ordered and written well. I continued to be appalled throughout the podcast, listening to how lie after lie were never caught and exposed until it was too late. How the system that is suppose to protect people never stepped in. How money and power always seems to win. Well, comeuppance is sweet.

Defiesexplanation ,

Ethically dubious

This is a textbook example of why true crime podcasts sometimes go too far.

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