Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, who has come under fire for a spree of over 400 pardons as he was leaving office, defended his commutation of the sentence of a man convicted of raping a young girl, saying there "was zero evidence" of the assault because her hymen was "intact."
Bevin, a Republican, also indicated that he had pardoned more than one child rapist.
During a radio interview with Terry Meiners on WHAS radio in Louisville, Meiners questioned Bevin about the pardons he made before he left office on Dec. 10 after he lost his bid for re-election on Nov. 5.
"There’s a child rapist, there’s someone who beheaded a woman," Meiners said.
"Which one are you talking about?" Bevin asked.
"A child rapist," Meiners stated.
"Which one, though? Because there were a couple of people that were accused of that whose sentences I commuted," Bevins responded.
Meiners was referring to Micah Schoettle, who was sentenced on Aug. 9, 2018, to 23 years in prison for rape, sodomy and other sexual crimes, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal.
The victim told police the abuse started when she was 9 and lasted until she was 12, the newspaper reported.
Bevin revealed during his radio interview that Schoettle had been accused of repeatedly assaulting both the girl and her sister who was allegedly in the room when the assaults occurred. "The sister denied all of it," Bevin said.
"These girls both were examined medically. They were examined physically. There was zero evidence. Zero. Both their hymens were intact," Bevin said in defense of allowing Schoettle to walk free. "This is perhaps more specific than people would want, but trust me, if you have been repeatedly sexually violated as a small child by an adult, there are going to be repercussions of that physically and medically."
Research does not back this claim.
In a study published in June in Reproductive Health journal, the authors wrote: "An examination of the hymen is not an accurate or reliable test of a previous history of sexual activity, including sexual assault. Clinicians tasked with performing forensic sexual assault examinations should avoid descriptions such as 'intact hymen' or 'broken hymen' in all cases."
"We call on clinicians to consider the low predictive value of a hymen examination," the authors said.
The mother of Schoettle's victim told ABC affiliate WCPO in Cincinnati last week that learning of the pardon was like “a slap in the face.”
"It feels like we're going through it all over again ... We just got to the point where we felt safe leaving the house and not looking over our shoulders," said the mother, whose identity was withheld.
The Courier-Journal has reported that some of those pardoned by Bevin had connections to prominent people in the state.
In Schoettle's case, his mother, Deborah Jo Durr, served two terms on the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission from 2009-17, according to the Courier Journal. His stepfather, R.C. Durr, was a prominent businessman and philanthropist who co-founded the Bank of Kentucky and whose construction and contracting business built hundreds of miles of state highways.
NBC News reached out to Deborah Jo Durr on Friday but did not immediately hear back. R.C. Durr is deceased.
Lawmakers have called for an investigation into Bevin’s pardons, and Kenton County Commonwealth's Attorney Rob Sanders launched an investigation into the pardon of Schoettle. Sanders, who led the prosecution against Schoettle, wrote on Twitter Thursday that his office has requested a copy of the pardon file, and Beshear's staff has promised to deliver it.
NBC News called cellphone and home phone numbers listed for Schoettle on Friday. There was no answer at either number, and a message was left on the cellphone requesting comment.