Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Newton County sexual predator will remain behind bars.
The Missouri Supreme Court today said it will not hear Joseph M. Johnson's appeal of his commitment to a state facility under the sexual predator law.
This is the third time Johnson has been rejected by an appellate court. He was turned down twice by the Southern District Court of Appeals. Under the provisions of the Sexually Violent Predators Civil Commitment 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, Johnson was on parole from the first offense, according to an April opinion by the Southern District Court of Appeals. 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 Johnson. A psychiatrist testified that Johnson had told him that while behind bars, he was "missing teenage girls the most."

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