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Gubernatorial Candidate James Comer Denies Abuse Allegations

T.J. and James Comer

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer on Tuesday flatly denied published allegations that he abused a woman he dated in the early 1990s.

The Courier-Journal article, published Monday evening, included excerpts from a four-page letter written by a woman who alleged that Comer mentally and physically abused her while they were in a relationship at Western Kentucky University. The woman also alleged that Comer took her to a Louisville abortion clinic in 1991.

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Comer, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, called the accusations “bizarre and untrue” and said he was considering filing a lawsuit against people "shopping the story," and the newspaper.

“That the Courier-Journal is publishing this garbage is a reflection on them, not me. They should be ashamed of this Rolling Stone-style journalism,” Comer said.

Comer also questioned the timing of the story, which was published just after a debate of lieutenant governor candidates on KET and the night before a press conference in which Comer touted the success of Kentucky’s hemp industry.

“It just so happens to come out and say this and make these false allegations. It was a politically calculated thing,” Comer said.

The Courier-Journal story was published a week after the Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Hal Heiner’s gubernatorial campaign had been in contact with a blogger who had pushed the Comer abuse allegations. Heiner denied any knowledge of the communication and later publicly apologized to Comer.

On Tuesday, Heiner’s campaign denied involvement with the Courier-Journal story.

During the press conference, Comer said that his relationship with his accuser ended amicably. He also showed reporters a book he says she gave him at a reunion in Lexington 10 years after they broke up.

T.J. Comer joined her husband at the press conference and also denied the accusations against him.

“If you know anything about small towns—I know everything about Jamie Comer, and I still do. I married him almost 12 years ago and I would do the same thing today," T.J. Comer said.

Comer is in a tight race with former Louisville Metro Councilman Hal Heiner and businessman Matt Bevin to be the Republican nominee for governor.

The primary election is May 19th.

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives. Email Ryland at rbarton@lpm.org.