Fabian Shepard is resigning as chairman of the Johnson County Republican Party after he was accused of forcing himself on the vice chair of the Wyandotte County Republican Party.
Shepard said Thursday morning that he was stepping down from a post he held for a little more than a year, saying the allegations had become too much of a distraction.
His resignation comes about a week before Johnson County Republicans are going to host Sarah Huckabee Sanders – the former spokeswoman for President Donald Trump – at a gala event in Olathe on Oct. 14.
The party’s vice chair, Marisel Walston, will now move up to lead the party.
“I no longer have the desire to serve in this capacity or any public capacity,” Shepard told the Sunflower State Journal on Thursday morning.
“Whether I resign or don’t resign, some people are going to think I am guilty,” he said.
“I just want to move away from it and not have people call for my resignation any longer,” Shepard said.
Shepard also said he was planning to step down from his positions on the Johnson County Library Board and the Johnson County Mental Health Advisory Board
Shepard’s decision to resign came after The Kansas City Star first reported that Shepard had been accused of battery by Stephanie Cashion, the vice chair of the Wyandotte County Republican Party.
Cashion filed a report on Sept. 3, accusing Shepard of forcing himself on her outside of the building where Kansans for Life was holding its Fall Fling event Aug. 20 in Bonner Springs.
The report says Shepard “grabbed her by the back of the neck and back and kissed her on the mouth.”
The report says Shepard asked Cashion if he was a “bad kisser” and then kissed her again. When he tried to kiss her a third time, she pushed him away, the report said.
Shepard said his decision to step down as county party chair should not reflect whether there’s any truth to the allegations. He said he’s innocent of the allegations.
A spokeswoman for the Bonner Springs Police Department said she could not discuss any more about the case than what has already been made public.
Walston said late Thursday afternoon that Shepard’s leadership was never welcomed by some factions after he narrowly won the chairmanship by four votes.
“It was a very divided vote and for some reason, I think, those people that lost that night just never accepted that loss.
“Even as things looked like they were going OK, I guess those people still weren’t happy that he had won,” she said.
She declined to address the allegations that Shepard is facing.
Shepard, who immigrated to the United States from Panama in 1977, had been seen as a Republican who was more interested in going to work and getting things done for the party rather than staking out ideological territory.
After he was elected party chair last year, Shepard said his biggest challenge was to bring unity to a party that has been split between moderates and conservatives for years.
Walston said Shepard had worked to get more people to engage with the county Republican Party, which had been controlled by conservatives in recent years.
She pointed to his efforts to organize a GOP picnic held at the end of August that attracted candidates running for statewide office.
She also cited next week’s party gala that will feature Sanders, who is running for governor in Arkansas.
“He was injecting a lot of new energy into the party,” she said.