Kentucky State Rep. Accused of Choking, Attempting to Tie Up Woman Resigns From Legislature

A Kentucky state Representative who was accused of choking and attempting to tie up a woman during a domestic argument in the spring of 2020 resigned from the state legislature Tuesday after being reelected last year, the Associated Press reported.

Republican state Representative Robert Goforth announced his resignation in a letter sent to Democratic Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear's office and the House speaker's office. He was arrested last year after a woman told police he assaulted her and attempted to "hog tie her," the citation of the incident said. It added that Goforth allegedly tried to choke her with an ethernet cable and that she thought she would pass out from breathing difficulties.

"At this time, family and personal circumstances demand my full attention and focus," Goforth wrote in his resignation letter.

He currently faces criminal charges for strangulation and assault. In 2019, Goforth was a former gubernatorial candidate and ran against then-Governor Matt Bevin in the GOP primary.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Kentucky State Capitol
Kentucky state Representative Robert Goforth, who was accused of choking and tying up a woman during a dispute, resigned from the state legislature. In this photo, the Kentucky State Capitol is seen in Frankfort, Kentucky on July 29, 2019. Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Goforth won reelection despite facing criminal charges.

A pretrial conference is set for Goforth on December 16.

He pleaded not guilty and was reelected by a wide margin to another two-year term last year in his rural district, a Republican stronghold that covers Jackson and parts of Laurel and Madison counties in southeastern Kentucky.

His legal turmoil prompted a citizen's impeachment petition seeking his removal from office. A House panel dismissed the petition after determining that impeachment doesn't apply to legislators under the state's constitution.

Goforth was a relative newcomer to the legislature when he challenged Bevin. He won nearly 40 percent of the vote, exposing Bevin's political weakness despite the governor's backing from then-President Donald Trump. Bevin never fully recovered from the lackluster showing, and he lost a close race to Beshear in the general election.

Goforth was known as a strong social conservative with a populist tone, backing funding for public education and workers' rights issues. He had pointed to his life story in his election campaigns. He dropped out of high school to help support his family, then earned his GED, served in the Army and went on to college. He became a pharmacist and opened a small chain of pharmacies.

In his resignation letter, Goforth thanked his constituents for electing him and said it was with a "heavy heart" that he was leaving the legislature. He wished the governor and his now-former House colleagues "the very best."

The governor will set the date for a special election to fill Goforth's seat.

Goforth was arrested after the woman told authorities that he assaulted her while three small children were in the home, officials had said. The woman had "visible marks" on her forehead, neck and arms, and bruises on her leg when she went to the 911 Dispatch Center in London, Kentucky, to file her report, they said.

The woman said she fled after Goforth made several attempts to "hog tie her," according to the citation.

She later said she never wanted him criminally charged and said they had reconciled.

Kentucky state Rep. Robert Goforth
Kentucky state Representative Robert Goforth thanked his constituents for electing him and said it was with a "heavy heart" that he was leaving the legislature. In this August 22, 2019, file photo, Goforth speaks with reporters at the Farm Bureau Ham Breakfast in Louisville, Kentucky. Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo