A Wisconsin billionaire has been convicted of sexually assaulting a minor, despite the fact that prosecutors could not convince the teen or her parents to testify in the trial.
On June 6, Samuel “Curt” Johnson III was convicted of sexually abusing a teen girl and was sentenced to four months in jail and a $6,000 fine after months of legal wrangling. He was ultimately convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct and will not have to register as a sex offender. He could have faced felony charges, but prosecutors ran into several insurmountable hurdles in pursuit of their case.
Johnson, 59, is a member of the family that founded household cleaning product giant SC Johnson.
The case was filed in 2011 but bounced back and forth between the victim and her family, various mental health providers, and prosecutors–all of whom ended up in disputes over who would testify and how prosecutors could get the evidence they needed to convict Johnson.
In his decision, Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz noted that the case was a difficult one because the victim and her family refused to testify against Johnson. Prosecutors also could not get access to the records of mental health providers for either the victim or the accused.
Twice, the case ended up before the Wisconsin Supreme Court over whether or not the state could compel the victim to testify or whether the state could gain access to mental health records. The state was denied that access, and the girl never testified.
The only reason the case came to light at all is because Johnson sought mental health counseling in Scottsdale, Arizona, for his sexual problems, and he admitted having inappropriate contact with the Wisconsin girl.
By Arizona state law, Johnson’s psychologist was mandated to inform authorities about the incident because it involved a minor.
When contacted by Racine, Wisconsin, authorities, the victim, who was between the ages of 12 and 15 when the incidents occurred, admitted that Johnson had inappropriate contact with her up to 20 times. But the girl, now 17, and her parents refused to press charges, and they would not aid prosecutors in gathering evidence on the case.
Authorities also found that confidentiality issues barred them from seeing the mental health records of the girl or Johnson.
“I would have liked a chance to present the felony case to a jury,” Assistant District Attorney Robert Repischak said to reporters. “But given the state of the case, with little if any evidence, I did what I was able to do.”
Since the medical records were inadmissible, prosecutors were unable to bring the victim or any of her family members to the stand to witness against the accused.
Ultimately, Judge Gasiorkiewicz said he was shocked that prosecutors were seeking the maximum sentence since Johnson was seeking help and was a first-time offender, not to mention the flimsy nature of the case. This was his key rationale for reducing the charges and the sentence.
Johnson has not been associated directly with SC Johnson for decades, but he was a chairman of Sturtevant-based Diversey Inc., a company once owned by the Johnson family. He resigned his position in 2011.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.