Drew Johnson, a Washington Times reporter, caught wind of Bill Higgins back in 2014. Unlike apathetic, bootlicking, lackey and incompetent reporters of the Bedford County Gazette, Drew Johnson was on it. His ears perked up, and that reporter’s instinct he had raised the hairs on the back his neck.
From his DC office, Johnson began sniffing around, and the more he uncovered, the more twisted and f#cked up things he heard. Interviewing victims, following up on “rumors’ to confirm the truth, and vigilently on guard for new information, he must have been disturbed at what he heard. Like a dog with a bone, he wouldn’t let it go. His investigation began in 2014. He had a hunch, after just talking to citizens and victims of Bill Higgins, and hearing the rampant rumors around the count – rumors certainly the highly function autistic children-like reporters at the Bedford Gazette most certainly were hearing, particularly considering that the rumors had reached a reporter in D.C.
After some interviews, and follow up, Johnson had heard enough. He decided he would take it step further and hit the Bedford County District Attorney’s Office with a Right to Know request, or a request for public information. It wasn’t that Drew Johnson did not believe the victims he had spoken to about Higgins, but like every prudent journalist who wants to break a story he wanted proof.
Drew Johnson’s investigation and RTK battle began in 2014, and he made little leeway. In the good old boy Pennsylvania system, powerful elected politicians are protected by other powerful population. Johnson wanted email correspondence pertaining to specific cases. He was immediately denied, with Higgin’s administration citing that revealing the emails in certain cases Johnson wanted to know about, would “jeopardize public security.” Basically it was a bull shit smoke and mirrors defense, when in reality, Higgins knew that releasing the requested emails would get him in a shi*t load of trouble and ruin his career.
Four years later after Johnson started the right to know war with Bedford County, and had been defeated – for all intensive purposes, news broke this week that Bill Higgins was indicted, and that he had resigned. Had the Bedford County Right to Know Officer granted the request of Johnson, then the scandal involving Higgins would have come to a conclusion years ago.
Johnson, who must have been frustrated, knowing that Higgins was extorting sexual favors using the powers granted to him in office for years expressed releif:
- BEDFORD, Pa. – Former Washington Times reporter and current national political watchdog and contributor to The Daily Caller & Newsmax, Drew Johnson, who first began an investigation into misconduct charges against Bill Higgins in 2014 says, “It’s about time.”
“It’s about time” is a pretty powerful sentiment. As in what Johnson is likely wondering, is what the rest of Bedford County is now wondering. Had the Bedford County Right to Know office followed the rules and not given bull shit excuses for not producing the public records requested by Johnson, how many other sexual assaults and instances of extortion could have been prevented in those four lapsed years? As in, could this crooked pervert public official could have been stopped in his tracks, from victimizing other women, in the four years that transpired between Drew Johnson’s right to know requests and the present time?
Drew Johnson knew and believed that the witnesses were telling the truth, what he needed was the physical proof. The physical proof was evidence, or documentation, which could have only been provided to the county.
Drew Johnson commented publicly today, his answer tinged with a bit of annoyance:
- “None of the charges surprised me. Between evidence I saw and my interviews with people who were victimized by Higgins, it became apparent that he intimidated witnesses, silenced people who had been victims of crime, encouraged people to give false testimony and misused tax dollars,” said Johnson. “He was certainly involved in crimes as bad as, or worse than, crimes committed by those he was prosecuting.“
Johnson wasn’t just some bull shit reporter sleeping at the Bedford County Gazzette and writing articles based on faxed press releases written by Higgins. At the time he started the RTK war in Bedford County, he had actually been working for the Washington Times.
His interest really grew in Bedford County, when he began to read about some of the f#cked up prosecutions being pursued by Johnson. Most notably, the disgraced, sex-crazed former Bedford DA Higgins prosecuted a case wherein he pushed for a stiff punishment for a 14 year old who posed for a stiff punishment for a 14 year old minor.
See the image below:
This image was the first thing that tipped off Drew Johnson that Higgins was a douchebag; He was working for the Washington Times when he began looking into Higgins in 2014 after the now former Bedford County District Attorney was pushing for a stiff punishment for a 14-year-old who posed with a Jesus statue in a lewd way.
Of course any reporter worth their salt is going to be offended by violations of an American’s Rights under the First Amendment of Free Speech. No where in the constitution does it specify that there is an age limit to the constitutional first amendment to free speech. So while the image was offensive to the conservative bedroom community of Bedford, it was a photograph, and as offensive as it might be, there was nothing against the law about it.
Higgins, ever concious of his public image in the press and in the community, immediately jumped on the case. He dug up charges, and made sure to crucify the kid in the press. It’s astounding that Higgins took such a moral offense to a 14 year old expressing his first amendment right to free speech, when he was exchanging sexual favors with attractive criminal defendants, and wiping their records clean if they complied.
Meanwhile a 14 year old minor had nothing to offer him. Higgins was not interested in the sexual favors of a 14 year old boy, he was more interested in the sexual favors of attractive women in their 20s or 30s who had fallen into legal trouble. Because it was the women who excited his sexuality, it was the women he preyed on.
Here is what Drew Johnson had to say about that:
- “After I wrote a brief piece criticizing Higgins for prosecuting a teen for posing with a Jesus statue in a lewd way, I received several emails from Bedford County residents asking me to look into Higgins for his tactics of intimidation, unfair treatment of political opponents, and abusing his office for sexual favors,” Johnson said.
Both conservatives and liberals were pissed off at the reaction to Billy Higgins over a facebook photo by a a 14 year old, and Bill Higgins – posing like a choir boy – decided to start a media firestorm.
- The Facebook photos were brought to the attention of Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins. When the owners of the statute declined to press charges, Higgins charged the boy under a law criminalizing the “desecration of a venerated object.” The charge carried with it a sentence of up to two years in jail. Rather than risk jail time, the teen agreed to stay off social media for the next six months, complete 350 hours of community service, obey a 10 pm curfew, and allow random drug tests. After successfully completing this program, the charges will be dismissed.
- Regardless of how one feels about the boy’s actions, there is a bigger issue at stake—the use of a clearly unconstitutional statute by a government official sworn to uphold the Constitution. The language of the Pennsylvania statute is nearly identical to the text of another statute that the United States Supreme Court held could not be applied constitutionally. In Texas v. Johnson, the high court held that the Texas “desecration of a venerated object” statute could not be used to prosecute an individual for burning an American flag because it was not the conduct that was being prosecuted, but the message that the conduct conveyed.
Classy. It makes me wonder. While Bill Higgins was prosecuting a minor child for expressing of free speech, was he coming back from court and contacting female criminal defendants to strike up sexual favors. Higgins, a hypocrite of the most profound proportions, wanted to publicly punish and criminally penalize the actions of a 14 year old boy, but somehow rationalized in his head, that as a married man, it was somehow okay to extort sexual favors from desperate, sometimes drug addicted women, facing serious consequences in the criminal justice system. I wonder where Higgin’s version of “Jesus” stood with that utter hypocrisy. Frankly, I wonder how he slept at night, pretending to be godly and religious in the public limelight, and breaking about five commandments in the bible.
Johnson, a DC reporter, was inflamed at reading the story. He was shocked that something so twisted and so injust could happen in America. He was so mad, he took the added step of leaving DC, to make a trip to Bedford and dig deeper. Something must have really stunk to him for him to go to all that effort.
Johnson describes the run down, beaten up Bedford County, with a huge drug town as a town where he was quick to discover that : Higgins “hung over the community like a black cloud” and residents were intimidated and threatened. People were scared of Higgins, Higgins was a nasty and hard charging District Attorney. The prison sentences were long, and Higgins showed no mercy. The papers, those cowards, were also likely under this “Black Cloud” of Higgins. Nobody wanted to be a target, nobody wanted to step on his toes, nobody wanted to be in his line of fire.
After his visit to that shithole Bedford, and after guaging the culture of fear, paranoia and experiencing -firsthand – the hesitancy of average citizens to speak about the f#cked up things occuring in the justice system in Bedford County, Johnson was undissuaded. Quite the opposite, he was emboldened. He did not reside in Bedford County, and publishing facts in the press is not breaking the law. So unphased, and now deeply curious: Johnson began digging deeper and filed Right-To-Know requests for more information.
Not surprisingly at all, Johnson’s requests? Well: Those requests were denied and Johnson’s investigation came to a halt. No one wanted to mess with Higgins, and Higgins had a lot to hide. The worst thing that could happen to Higgins were that the county would release those disgusting, morally defunct emails he was sending to female criminal defendants to extort sexual favors. It would have been a career breaker, and eventually would become one. “My efforts to expose the truth through journalism were stifled by the difficulty in obtaining public records in Pennsylvania and peoples’ fear about retaliation if they spoke out publicly against Higgins.”
Beautiful, Higgins had set up the perfect environment in which he could continue his criminal activities without question. Nobody wanted to question Higgins, because nobody wanted manufactured charges, sexual extortion or – god forbid – criminal prosecution for expressing their first amendment rights. God knows, if Higgins was willing to charge a 14 year old boy for a stupid facebook photo (threatening him with two years of jail), just imagine what he would have done to a victim of his sexual extortion who opened her mouth and publicly spoke about it.
Drew Johnson hit dead end after dead end, much like many of the crooked politicians in Pennsylvania, Higgins was untouchable. Even elected Judges and his elected peers wanted nothing to do with that. Retaliation was notoriously Higgins forte. Either you kissed his ass and get him re-elected, or he’d manufacture charges against you, charges in which the only shot you had to get off on is if you were female and willing to get on your hands and knees under his desk and suck his cock. Then maybe you had a bargaining chip. So on Wednesday, after a four year fight for Johnson to uncover the truth, I can’t even begin to imagine the sense of validation and satisfaction he felt, and the papers in DC reported the same: Wednesday, several years after Johnson first began looking into the former district attorney, he is glad the truth is coming out.
- “This should be a day of celebration for residents of Bedford County who, for years, have been bullied by a district attorney who has abused his power, exploited his office and intimidated the citizens who paid his salary,” Johnson said.’
The black cloud and veil of paranoia, and fear of retaliation was finally lifted. Not only that, but in conjunction with the exposed information, there was the most embarrassing scandal Higgins had been dodging and avoiding since in office. The truth was out.
During Higgins resignation speech, the hypocrisy continued. He cited that he sought forgiveness of God in his family. I have serious doubts that Higgins was thinking about God when he was bargaining for sexual favors to call off search warrants on drug addicted and impoverished, unrepresented females who were facing serious charges. I doubt Jesus crossed his mind when he was cheating on his wife and using mechanisms of threats and extortion against young women to satisfy his own sexual needs.
My only criticism of Johnson, who is exceptionally brave, exceptionally talented and a bulldog of an invistigative journalism, is Johnson’s straight up naivety. Clearly not being from Pennsylvania, and reporting out of DC, he has a skewed perception of the justice system in Pennsylvania: He said that he is happy for the residents of Bedford County and is hopeful they can once again believe in the judicial system. Well Mr. Johnson, apparently you are not following the judicial and CJS scandals in Pennsylvania.
Haven’t you read about Doug Gansler and the Porn Report? Haven’t you read about the former Centre County District Attorney who inspired that same “black cloud” of fear. I would recommend reading about Seth Williams, Kathleen Kane, Judge Doerr…. And I could go on with this list forever. There are black clouds all over Pennsylvania that have forever scarred this generation and the next from having any chance of “believing in the judicial system.”
I would liken Bill Higgins to just scratching the surface. Your intuition, persistence, calculated professional outrage, and the fight you put up in exposing this absolute abomination of justice could be duplicated 100 more times, and it gets worse and worse the deeper you go. There are only a few shining lights, and they were hard fought. Larry Krasner is one shining light, but he appeared only after Seth Williams was sitting in jail for ripping off the tax payers and running his office like a flat out THUG.
What I can say about your work, is that you did what no other journalist in Bedford County or the Philadelphia Inquierer, or the Pittsburgh Gazette, or the surrounding counties of Bedford press had the courage or veracity to do by uncovering this corruption. And you did it fearlessly, without concern of retaliation or consequence. You gave a unique voice to the fearful, frightened and victimized. But I want you to consider that Pennsylvania is one of the top five most corrupt states in the nation, and that the entire state hangs under a black cloud.
That eye of the hurricane you created in Bedford County was a four year knock-down, drag out, knife fight. And the penalties faced by the 23 misdemeanors of Bill Higgins result in community service and fines, likely no jail time. Our disciplinary board is so twisted and so tied up in the corruption across the state, that your temporary “eye of the hurricane” under a black cloud covering the entire state is honorable, but it’s only the beginning. There is so much work to be done, there are so many screwed up counties, there are so many people living in fear of retaliation by prosecutors and judges, that somedays I think Pennsylvania is just hopeless.
It’s only when bold, fearless, savvy, intelligent, god fearing, justice driven and relentless investigative journalists come along that I begin to see a sliver of hope. But then again, look how hard you fought for the truth, look how many times you got stonewalled, rejected, and I imagine threatened. We aren’t talking about a battle in one small town, we are talking about a WAR across the state with the PA CJS and the judiciary.
If I could clone you dozens of times and put you in some of these towns suffering under black clouds, perhaps we could turn those tables of fear of our government, to how it should be, the government fearing us. What is most disgraceful and alarming to me, is that your bold and fearless actions came from a man who was out of state. Pennsylvania is a hole. I could give you 20 other Judges and District Attorneys to look into. How frustrating it would be for you to fight and fight a losing open records battle attempting to expose the bullying and corruption of these small town tyrants, but you wouldn’t have the time of day. Further, I imagine that even after this victory, you recognize how hard fought and what a war it was. Nobody in their right mind would have the energy, patience or courage to take on all these small town tyrants at once, but what you did show is that it’s possible.
When and if the lazy and cowardly reporters call Drew Johnson, I hope he can be a mentor for them. I hope he can instill some bravery, and teach them that doing a good job, as a professional journalist is worth doing. I hope he can convey that the responsibilities of a news organization is not to lick the @sses of elected people in power, and flatter them in the press. I hope for the reporters at the Bedford Gazzette, this incident with a reporter from out of state, who worked for years and broke the story benefited the whole county. Because, if you know me, I rant and rave constantly. There is a duty of the media, not just to report the press as it is written in contrived self promoting press releases issued by politicians, but to investigate. It is the responsibility of the media to send open records requests, which sure – may piss off the government officials and crooked narcissisitic politicians that dot Pennsylvania – but on the flip side, it protects people, people who rely on the news.
Exposure of corruption may breed retaliation by small minded, self agendicizing politicians. It may piss them off and provoke them to retaliate. It may make you a target for ass holes like Bill Higgins, but in the end it’s not about you. The reason you went to school and got your journalism degree was not to “fly under the radar” or “not step on any toes.” The reason, I would hope, that people enter the field of journalism, is to protect the public.
“Bedford County will be a better place to live without Bill Higgins in a position of power,” Johnson said.
The reason you go to journalism school and enter the field, is so you can report the news (not as politicians would like you to report it) but in a way that protects the community and public, even if you are putting your own reputation on the line for telling the truth, and even if you face incalculably cruel threats and retaliation.
Higgins was arraigned and waived a preliminary hearing Wednesday. His attorney said that his client is “absolutely innocent.”
And to me, even though Drew Johnson works out of DC, Pennsylvania should recognize him as one of their own. Because what Johnson did for Bedford County and Pennsylvania was something they could not do for themselves, and moreover it was something they should have done for themselves, and more importantly their readership that is relying on them as watchdogs. Again, I hope Johnson provides a good example for these small town newspapers.
Bedford County owes Drew Johnson a major thank you.
And before I end this articles, 23 misdemeanors against Higgins was pure bullshit, there should have been multiple felonies. Josh Shapiro is someone voters of Pennsylvania should remove from office.