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Letters: Nevin Graves withdraws candidacy for Missoula School Board

On Monday, December 20th, 2021, I announced my campaign for the Missoula County Public Schools Board of Trustees. As an educator with experience in public, private and nonprofit educational institutions, the son of a single mom who taught kindergarten, and a dedicated community advocate, I felt like I could offer meaningful perspective to this elected, volunteer board.

I had the support of people I trust and admire, and I announced with hope and excitement for the chance to serve my community. The next morning, after a night of congratulations and support from friends, family and colleagues, I filed requisite paperwork with the Missoula County Elections Office, and managed to knock over part of a printer on the notary’s desk.

I was embarrassed, apologetic, and took it as a sign to be more careful.

Later that Tuesday, I was informed by my campaign treasurer that allegations of rape and assault were being made against me by my high school ex-partner. In response to my campaign announcement, Everett Johns made a series of graphic and explicit accusations on social media about our relationship from 2012-2015, when we were classmates at Corvallis High School and the Bitterroot College. I left work early, and drove to the Ravalli County Courthouse to inquire as to whether charges were in fact being pressed against me.

No such charges exist. The Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office investigated the claims of Everett Johns in 2019, and I fully cooperated with their investigation. At no point was I charged with nor convicted of any crime, and I vehemently deny the heinous things I have been accused of by a person that I trusted. On Tuesday, December 21, I again sought out and spoke face-to-face with Ravalli County Sheriff’s deputies, to ascertain if I was being charged with any crime, and I am not.

The terror of asking someone if they need to arrest me was gut-wrenching. On Wednesday, I spoke to a Missoula Police Department officer to report harassment, and I have filed a Title IX report to the same effect. In every step of this process, I have respected and followed due process of the law. Everett Johns chose to flaunt due process, drag my name through the mud over social media, called for the end of my political and professional career, and attacked my employer in a further attempt to affect my personal destruction. Almost everything that he has said is a distortion, projection, or outright lie.

The truth is that I was 18, and Everett was 15. A three-year age gap. I acknowledge that dating him was the stupidest thing I have ever done. I also remember him threatening my life, beating and stabbing me, and frequently self-harming while forcing me to watch. I remember praying to God that Everett would get better, that if we could just get him through small-town life and into space where he could heal, that everything would be okay. I loved this person with my whole heart, and I still want Everett to have a happy, peaceful life. He suffered immensely at the hands of people I will not name here, because that is his story to tell.

My story is this: I am not a sexual predator nor a criminal, and my loved ones and myself deserve to live a life free from harassment and public denigration. These accusations have broken my heart, and I have spent hours sobbing and trying to comfort myself with the truth that I know in my heart. I’m a devoted son, brother, uncle, friend, and partner, and I did not do the horrible things I am accused of.

I will be withdrawing my candidacy for the MCPS Board of Trustees. I cannot subject my family to more of the abuse we have suffered at the hands of a person who has denied due process and pursued a bloodthirsty vendetta. I hope that someone with a heart to serve steps forward soon, because we need good people in every level of government. I thank those members of my community who came forward to offer me trust and support as I navigate this nightmare, and I hope that we all find peace in the New Year. -Nevin Graves