A woman who accused a Kentucky Baptist youth minister last year of sexually abusing her teenaged daughter now says she made the story up.
According to local media Debra Johnson signed a court document Tuesday admitting that she made up the allegation that led to the December 2007 arrest of Clayton Pruett, youth minister at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />PleasantGroveBaptistChurch in Shepherdsville, Ky., and assistant wrestling coach at a local high school.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Criminal charges against Pruett were dropped in February, when a detective failed to appear for a court hearing. Pruett sued the mother of the alleged victim for slander, libel and defamation of character in an effort to clear his name.
A settlement order filed in court this week requires Johnson to pay an undisclosed amount of money. The statement reportedly says that Johnson’s complaints to police about Pruett were false, that she regrets making the statements and that Pruett committed no crime.
“It’s very gratifying that we have this document that shows what we have known all along,” Pruett told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “We can now show without a shadow of a doubt that I am innocent.”
Johnson recently resigned as a member of the Bullitt County School Board. Pruett was suspended as a substitute teacher and assistant wrestling coach at a BullittCounty school but has since been reinstated.
Pruett’s church placed him on administrative leave after his arrest. According to WHAS-TV in Louisville, church leaders voted unanimously over the weekend to give him back his old youth minister job. He is scheduled to preach at the church this Sunday on the topic of forgiveness.
Pruett has maintained innocence from the start. He said he believes the mother was trying to get back at him for correcting the daughter’s behavior at church.
“I think plain and simple, they wanted to show who was boss and they wanted to do things their way,” he told a television station.
The Courier-Journal reported that Johnson could now face criminal charges. “Somebody comes in and makes a false statement, we take a hard stand against that,” said Detective Scotty McGaha of the Bullitt County Sheriff’s Office.