The girl who may have been the first in a series of alleged sexual assaults perpetrated by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is finally going public with her story, 19 years after Johnson allegedly molested her when she was 15-years-old.
Amanda Koba was a 15-year-old girl who venerated Johnson, the star guard of the Phoenix Suns at the time, when he was 29. A police report from the 1996 alleged molestation stated that Johnson fondled Koba, showered with her, and rubbed his penis against her thigh before suggesting they pray and ask for forgiveness for what he had done. He also told the young girl, who lived with her mother, to “pinky promise” that she would remain silent.
Because no physical evidence was found, no charges were filed against Johnson, but in May 1997, the Phoenix New Times reported an attorney representing a girl named “Kim Adams” was pressing Johnson to pay for “Kim’s” silence. Fred Hiestand, an attorney who functioned as Johnson’s advisor then and now, told The Phoenix New Times that Johnson had only attempted to “help” “Adams”. He called “Adams” “mentally unstable and a liar,” protesting of Johnson, “If he was interested in any kind of sexual action, he had a lot more attractive offers.”
Hiestand now acts as president of Johnson’s non-profits, the Sacramento Public Policy Foundation and the St. HOPE Endowment.
Koba told Deadspin that she accepted money from Johnson in exchange for her silence, with the only exceptions being speaking to “a priest, a therapist, or a lawyer.” She had the single signed copy of the agreement placed in a safe deposit box in Arizona, which “can only be opened when both of our attorneys are present.”
Now that she is in her middle thirties, living with her three children in Virginia, far from Johnson, Koba wants to speak out. She told Deadspin, “I’ve chosen to say what I want, fully aware of the consequences. I just felt like I wasn’t doing anything but protecting him. Part of the way they got me to go along with the agreement was they told me it would protect me from his attorneys saying mean things about me. Well, I’m a grown-up now. They can say mean things about me if they want.”
The original police report from 1996 stated that Koba met Johnson in 1995 while an extra in a PSA starring Johnson. She said Johnson gave her his business card, followed by a shipment of flowers to her home on her 16th birthday. When Johnson visited her home, Koba states, he told her mother that Koba had great potentital, and lacking a father, could use him as a mentor. Her mother gave him permission to teach her daughter, but he couldn’t be her boyfriend.
Koba told police Johnson called her “Whiskey.” She recalled, “And when he hasn’t seen [me] in a while or talked to me, he’d leave a message telling me that he needed a shot of whiskey.”
The police report noted Koba stated Johnson took her to see Batman Forever in a theater and rented The Last Seduction to view at her home. Other episodes included Johnson allegedly lying on top of her at his home and fondling her breasts and vagina while they were naked.
Koba’s therapist working with her on the girl’s eating disorder told police about her trouble with Johnson. Then the therapist contacted Johnson and told him she thought Johnson’s actions were connected to the eating disorder.
Later, investigators had Koba phone Johnson on a secretly tapped line, prompting this conversation:
Koba: “Well, I was naked and you were naked, and it wasn’t a hug.”
Johnson: “Well, I felt that it was, you know, a hug, and you know, I didn’t, to be honest, remember if we were both naked at that time. That is the night at the guesthouse?”
Koba: “Yeah. … Why would I be upset if it was just a hug?”
Johnson: “Well, I said the hug was more intimate than it should have been. But I don’t believe I touched your private parts in those areas. And you did feel bad the next day and that’s why we talked about it.”
Koba: “Well, if it was just a hug, why were either one of us naked?”
Johnson: “Again, I didn’t recall us being a hundred percent naked.”
Koba stated that after the call, Johnson stopped answering calls from her. She said he ultimately paid her $230,600 to be silent.
Johnson has been accused of other sexual molestations, including a 2007 case in which he allegedly molested a student at St. HOPE, the charter school he founded in Sacramento. One teacher at the school, Erik Jones, filled out a suspected child-abuse report about the incident from the student that read:
Mr. Johnson [a teacher and President of St. HOPE publics Schools] came up behind me and started to massage my shoulders. Soon his hands were on the top of my breasts. The situation grossed me out and that was not the first time. He has, on numerous occasions, hugged me and kissed me either on the cheek or on my forehead. He is a family friend, but I feel creeped out when he does this. He has also done this to other girls in the class and with one of the Hood Corps students he tried to crawl into her bed. And that is why she quit Hood Corps.
The Sacramento Bee reported that Johnson’s mayoral campaign said “[a]n impartial three-person panel found that the allegation was unfounded.” The leader of the panel was Kevin Hiestand—Fred Hiestand’s son.
Jones eventually quit teaching at the school to protest the lack of action against Johnson, writing, “St. HOPE sought to intimidate the student through an illegal interrogation and even had the audacity to ask me to change my story.”
A CNCS investigation of St. HOPE included allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct Johnson committed against five young women. One alleged victim said Kevin Hiestand had “basically asked me to keep quiet,” and that Johnson “offered her $1,000 a month.”
Koba has written:
For the longest time, I would feel that it was my fault—I hadn’t done enough to stop him. I know that’s ridiculous. I couldn’t stop him. But I felt responsible for their pain. I don’t know who they are, and they likely cannot tell anybody but their therapist or the priest or attorney. I’ve been called a sick slut in the media, a gold digger, an unreliable victim. I’ve had attorneys infer that the man who abused me had much more attractive women, options, so the idea that he’d sexually abuse me, a minor, was ludicrous. I’ve had my perpetrator – that’s what he is, a perpetrator, not someone who just made a mistake – held up as an example, a leader, a trusted advisor.
She now volunteers as a crisis responder for sexual assault victims through Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault.