Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Newton County man described as a sexually violent predator will remain off the streets thanks to an appellate court decision handed down today.
The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Southern District ruled for the second time that Joseph M. Johnson must remain in a secure facility for treatment, something which has been permitted in this state since the passage of the Sexually Violent Predators Civil Commitment Act. Under the provisions of that act, those who are termed violent sexual predators may be kept for treatment after completion of their prison terms.
The civil commitment was initially approved by Newton County Circuit Court Judge Timothy Perigo.
Johnson was committed after psychiatric experts testified that he was likely to commit violent sexual crimes again. He had two prior convictions for sexual offenses, according to the opinion. In 1991, he was convicted of two counts of sodomy in connection with a situation involving his nine-year-old stepdaughter.
Four years later, he was convicted of sexual assault in the first degree after using "verbal and physical force" on his 15-year-old niece to make her have sex with him. At the time, he was on parole from the first offense, according to the opinion.
Each time he was convicted, Johnson was required to participate in a sexual offenders program. He failed to complete the program either time, the opinion said.
Johnson's illegal actions were not limited to those for which he was convicted, the opinion indicates. "There was evidence that Johnson had sexual contact with other underage girls besides (the two mentioned in the opinion)." One such girl, a teenaged neighbor became pregnant as a result of sex with Johnson. Another girl testified she had been sexually abused by him.
A psychiatrist testified that Johnson had told him that while behind bars, he was "missing teenage girls the most."

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