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Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says remarks about teacher protest, sexual assault were misunderstood

Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-16 19:32:15-04

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says many people misunderstood him when he claimed Friday's teacher rally in Frankfort directly caused children to be injured, poisoned and sexually assaulted. 

In a nearly 4-minute video posted Sunday, Bevin didn't apologize for what he'd said, however -- only that he took responsibility for not being clearer. 

The Republican said his comments to reporters outside the Capitol were about the "unintended consequences of schools being shut down, some with just a matter of hours of notice, less than 24, and children left vulnerable as a result of that."

"Many people have been confused or hurt or just misunderstand what it was that I was trying to communicate. That's my responsibility, it truly is," Bevin said.

Watch his entire video below:

Bevin, who would see his veto of an education-boosting state budget overridden by state lawmakers, had characterized the attitudes of protesting teachers as cavalier and flippant about student safety. He asserted their failure to appear at school Friday would especially endanger the children of single parents who could not afford to miss a day of work.

"I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them," he said Friday. "I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was physically harmed or ingested poison because they were home alone because a single parent didn't have enough money to take care of them."


Democrats and fellow Republicans blasted him for that remark.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear, a Democrat and Bevin foe, called the governor's comments "morally reprehensible."

State Sen. Max Wise, Republican chairman of the Education Committee, described Bevin's comments as "disgusting."

"I don't agree with these comments & I find them repulsive.  I disagreed with his radio comments about teachers before & I disagree with these," Wise tweeted.

In Sunday's video, Bevin apologized to those who were hurt by the things that were said, and that it wasn't his intent to cause harm. 

"I'm sorry for those of you, every single one of you, that has been hurt by things that I've said. Let's work together, we need to work together," he said.

Friday's teacher rally did result in the closure of at least 30 Kentucky school districts, including Erlanger-Elsemere Schools and Bellevue Independent Schools. However, officials from both Erlanger-Elsemere and Bellevue said Bevin's proposed education cuts -- not the one-day absence of teachers -- would "severely reduce" services that provide forms of childcare before and after school, including kindergarten, preschool and tutoring.

Although the teachers succeeded in protecting pensions for current workers and pressuring legislators into overriding Bevin's veto, Kentucky teachers could still face problems in the future. The pension bill passed by the Kentucky legislature moves new hires onto a hybrid pension plan and would not protect them from future changes to the system.