ST. GEORGE — A St. George man is facing felony charges following accusations he sexually assaulted a teen. While he claims the contact was consensual, the teen and her mother have a different view of the matter.
Joe J. Johnson, 44, was arrested by St. George Police in November after a 17-year-old detailed a sexual encounter with the man. She told police she did not consent, according to a probable cause statement.
Johnson, who is represented by attorney Aric Cramer, appeared in court last week for a roll call hearing.
On Nov. 7, the teen had a high fever and had gone to her father’s home where she was staying at the time, according to the statement. Johnson, who was her father’s roommate, was also there and offered her some NyQuil medication. She took it and fell asleep. When she woke up, she found Johnson on top of her and engaged in sexual activity.
Johnson stopped when the girl woke up and left the room after asking if her fever had broken, according to the statement.
“(The teen) claimed this was not a consensual sexual act,” the police officer wrote.
It wasn’t the first time something like that had happened, the girl told police. She would wake up at times to find Johnson engaged in sexual acts with her. However, when she asked Johnson to stop, he did and left her room, according to the statement.
“Throughout the interview, (the teen) had difficultly remembering details about her sexual encounters with Joe,” the officer wrote.
The girl said encounters with Johnson began in July 2018.
She had been staying at her father’s home while he was sometimes away “either for doctor appointments or something Veteran related,” the girl’s mother told St. George News. Johnson, she said, was a trusted friend, a trucker and prone to being gone, so the girl’s father didn’t feel there was any issue in leaving the two alone at his home.
St. George News is not naming the mother in order to protect the identity of the girl.
When police interviewed Johnson, “he adamantly denied he sexually assaulted (the girl),” according to the probable cause statement. Rather, he admitted to four separate sexual encounters with the teen, and he said each time was consensual.
“Joe confirmed he knew (the girl) was seventeen years of age and understood the law prohibited him from having sex with her due to their age difference,” the officer wrote.
While Johnson claimed each encounter with the teen was consensual, the girl said in the statement that only some of them were and the November incident certainly wasn’t.
However, the girl’s mother said her daughter told her none of the sexual acts committed with Johnson was consensual. Instead, she said her daughter felt intimidated by Johnson’s physical size and was afraid she may be hurt if she tried to fight back, so she didn’t.
The encounters with Johnson started after a friendship of sorts had formed between the two. Johnson learned the girl had lost her virginity after having a boy over when no one else was home, the girl’s mother said, adding that her daughter was afraid of her father learning about the situation. Johnson agreed not to tell him, she said.
After that, the mother said her daughter told her that Johnson would coax her into situations where he ended up assaulting her.
Johnson was arrested and charged with four third-degree felonies for committing unlawful conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old.
He was booked into the Purgatory Correctional Facility, but was released on bail.
Cramer said his client has no prior history of sexual assault, and the teen and her mother are “coming up with stories.”
“There’s more to this story than their side of it,” Cramer said.
Editor’s note: The 10th paragraph has been edited to reflect the girl’s father was not a truck driver but was away from the house.
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