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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
Customer ReviewsSee All
I wish it was longer, had more substance & got this man out of office. This just made me think of another criminal in power that’s going to stay in power, wreak havoc because of their stature or position & destroy lives until the people around them can no longer ignore the behavior...then it’s too late. I gave the podcast 5 stars despite this because these small country towns are incestuous to the point that right & wrong changes based on who you just had a beer with, sat beside in church, went to school with or slept with last night or last week. Their cognition is so narrow, they can convince each other of nearly anything. I’m glad I was born a world removed away from people like this, but damned if I can understand how mainstream can ignore it.
Thanks so much for not letting this story go
Thanks for your hard work and bravery.
I’m so glad there are reporters who aren’t afraid to expose the dirt of people like this man! The content was greatly assembled & put together, I listened to every episode immediately as it kept me on the edge of my seat hearing this story. Thank you, keep it coming!