UPDATE: Johnson to be sentenced Tuesday

UPDATE: Johnson to be sentenced Tuesday

WINDSOR, Ont. — A former Upper Peninsula hockey star found guilty of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in a Canadian night club three years ago was back in court Monday.

According to The Windsor Star, legal counsel for twenty-two year-old Ben Johnson told Justice Kirk Monroe of the Superior Court in Ontario that his client should serve minimal jail time for his actions, saying that Johnson is not a risk to re-offend. The prosecution called Johnson’s act a ‘serious criminal offense.’

On September 1st, Justice Monroe found Johnson guilty of sexual assault. The incident occurred at a nightclub on St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, when Johnson’s accuser, who was sixteen at time, said he raped her inside a bathroom.

Johnson, a former Calumet High School hockey standout and New Jersey Devils draft pick, was playing for the Windsor Spitfires when the incident took place. The Devils terminated Johnson’s contract after he was found guilty.

He faces up to ten years in prison. Johnson will be sentenced Tuesday afternoon.

CALUMET — A new Facebook page has popped after Ben Johnson’s guilty verdict. The page “Support Ben Johnson” claims the former U.P. high school hockey star and NHL draftee was “falsely accused and convicted of horrible crime,” in an effort to garner support to help Johnson in the appeal process.

“Those that know him know that he is not capable of such. We are asking of your support by writing a letter stating how you know him, that you are aware of what happened, and positive attributes of his character,” the page posted Sunday afternoon. The posts asks supporters of Johnson sign and date handwritten letters and mail to or give to a family member. “These letters are very important as they will go to the judge and will be used for the appeal process.”

Posted by Support Ben Johnson on Sunday, September 4, 2016

[Portions of this report are courtesy of Keweenaw Report and the Winsdor Star]


WINDSOR, Ont. — Former Calumet youth hockey player Ben Johnson will remain free on bail at least until he is sentenced on sexual assault charges.

Johnson was convicted Thursday of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in the restroom of a Windsor, Ontario nightclub in March, 2013. He was a member of the Windsor Spitfires hockey team at the time.

At a hearing in a Windsor, Ontario court today, prosecutors and Johnson’s defense attorney worked out a deal to increase his bail commitment. Windsor Star justice journalist Sarah Sacheli reported that Johnson’s family added another C$12,500 to the C$15,000 cash they have already posted.

Two Canadian citizens have increased the amount each has pledged on Johnson’s behalf from C$7,500 to C$15,000. They are Joe Garland, a therapist with the Spitfires, and Fran Venes, who provided housing for Johnson when he played in Windsor. Garland and Venes have put up no cash, but would be liable for the amounts if Johnson fails to appear.

Johnson will be prohibited from entering establishments that primarily serve alcohol. He may not possess weapons or ammunition, and may not contact the victim or her family in any way. He must stay out of Essex County, Ontario, except for court appearances.

The Star reported that Johnson’s attorney is considering filing an appeal of the verdict, and wanted his client to remain free during that process. Under Canadian law, the appeal cannot be filed until the sentence is handed down. If bail had been revoked today, the appellate judge could have reinstated it, but Johnson would have been imprisoned until that time.

Judge Kirk Munroe approved the agreement, and scheduled Johnson’s sentencing hearing for October 24th. He also confirmed Johnson’s address in Calumet.

Hours after Justice Monroe found Johnson guilty, the New Jersey Devils announced they are in the process of terminating his contract. Johnson was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2012.

Former U.P. high school hockey star, Ben Johnson, is found guilty in Ontario court of raping a 16-year-old girl. The verdict was handed down after Johnson had been out on bail for nearly three and a half years. Assistant attorney Scott Kerwin asked that Johnson be immediately taken into custody after the verdict was read.

Judge Kirk Munroe instead entrusted him in the care of a friend overnight until Friday’s probationary hearing.

During his decision and assessment of the evidence, presiding Judge Munroe said that even though the girl told her sister, “Ben Johnson raped me,” he could not accept it as the entire truth. The 16 year old was extremely intoxicated, and her lawyer argued that she wasn’t sober enough to give consent. Before his verdict, Judge Munroe referred to the testimony of toxicology experts and concluded that the girl was “near comatose” during the incident.

The judge highlighted a lack of evidence, and cited hearsay and other legal principles at issue in the trial. The DNA evidence in the case, according to investigative justice reporter Sarah Sacheli of the Windsor Star, was inconclusive. The judge agreed with the girl’s lawyer, however, that she was too drunk to give consent, and “the accused knew the complainant was incapable of consenting to sex.”

According to Sacheli, Judge Munroe said the girl’s testimony that she was a virgin was not used to bolster her credibility nor conclude that she was less likely to give consent.

The judge also said that he did not believe Johnson’s testimony because the judge concluded that the vaginal blood in question during the case was from ‘intercourse with the complaintant,’ and that there was a ‘dark shadow’ over Johnson’s testimony. The judge stated in his anaylsis of the case that the girl’s friend gave ‘stunning evidence’ of what she saw in the washroom.

During Johnson’s testimony he said the friend wasn’t there, but Judge Munroe said, “The accused’s testimony makes no sense to me,” according to Sacheli, who was present in the courtroom during the entire trail. The judge called Johnson’s testimony regarding the friend to be a “deliberate falsehood.” Johnson said that he never touched the girl as they kissed or as she gave him oral sex. Judge Munroe found that “unbelievable.”

Johnson’s version was that the girl pulled him into the stall, kissed him, and gave him oral sex. He claimed that the blood was from her menstrual cycle. Munroe said the testimony sounded like a “memorized mantra,” and again stated that the defendant’s evidence was “unbelievable.”

The guilty verdicted was handed down just after 4:30 p.m.

Ben Johnson is accused of raping a then 16–year–old girl in a Windsor, Ontario bathroom on Saint Patrick’s Day in 2013. Johnson was 18 at the time of the alleged rape, playing for the Windsor Spitfires.

During his time on the stand, the New Jersey Devils prospect told his attorney that the girl, his accuser, gave him fellatio inside a nightclub bathroom stall and that’s as far as it went.

According to the Windsor Star, Johnson is expected to testify again tomorrow.

He was acquitted from his other sexual assault case in January of 2013. The woman accusing Johnson says she doesn’t remember giving him consent the night of the alleged rape.

We will continue to follow the trial as it progresses.

'Ben Johnson raped me,' alleged victim testifies. Johnson is a former Upper Peninsula hockey star, U.P. native, and NHL…

Posted by ABC10 & CW5 UP on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Follow courtroom proceedings of this story by following Sarah Sacheli, justice reporter for the Windsor Star.

WINDSOR, Ont. — Threatening the budding professional hockey career of Calumet high school alum Ben Johnson is the outcome of two alleged sexual assaults of a 20-year-old and a 16-year-old in Windsor, Ontario. In one of those cases, a judge ruled this morning Johnson was not guilty of charges.

According to Sacha Long of CTV Windsor, 22 year-old Ben Johnson of Houghton, Mich. has been found not guilty of criminal sexual assault in a Canadian court just after 11 a.m. this morning. Reportedly, the judge said she believed some of Johnson’s testimony earlier this year in court, but questioned other parts of it. The judge said Johnson minimized the amount of alcohol he consumed before the incident and was clearly feeling the affects of intoxication.

Johnson’s lawyer claimed that the witnesses were making the story up, but the judge said there appeared to be no motive for the complainant to alter evidence.

After lengthy and delayed court proceedings in just one of two separate court cases, Johnson was found not guilty.

Born in Hancock, MI, Johnson skated for Calumet high school, then played for for the Ojibwa Eagles. In Canada, the U.P.-raised hockey phenom was faced with the accusations stemming from alleged incidents in 2013 at Windsor bars.

Before the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL signed Johnson in 2011, he was the leading scorer for the Calumet Kings with 59 points as a sophomore, then named Michigan’s ‘Mr. Hockey’ after his junior season. He became the New Jersey Devils’ selection in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Johnson appeared in a preliminary court hearing at the beginning of June that ordered him to face trial for the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old female. That trial is not yet scheduled. The charges reference an end of the season celebration held on March 18 of 2013 at the Mynt Night Club, a downtown Windsor bar. Johnson was jailed after police say a 16-year-old girl identified the accused as her assaulter. She claims the incident happened early Sunday morning, St. Patrick’s Day of last year. The alleged assault is said to have happened inside a men’s restroom at the Mynt. Johnson was arrested, spent the day in jail, and released on a $30,000 bail after appearing in court the following Tuesday.

Two women testified in this separate court case – of which Johnson faces similar charges of sexual assault that allegedly occurred two months prior to St. Patrick’s Day 2013.

Explicit Content: The details of the testimony given by witnesses are graphic in nature and explicit in language. Both CTV and The Windsor Star have published versions of what was said in court. For the sources that originally published the court room exchange, use the links below.

According to witness testimony as published by CTV, on January 13 of last year, a man was said to have trapped a young woman in a locked restroom stall at Krooked Kilt bar. The witness said the man, who she would later identify as Ben Johnson, exposed himself to the alleged victim and demanded sexual acts. The female witness claimed to be dating the alleged victim at the time, and explained that the two women had entered the men’s bathroom stall together, but when she exited, Johnson allegedly positioned himself between the two women, ignoring her pleas of protest.

The witness testified that Johnson was exposed as he pushed the young woman further into the stall. According to the testimony, Johnson held the door shut while both women were trying to open the stall door. The witness said she wasn’t strong enough to overpower the man, and the incident is said to have lasted for 30 – 40 seconds. The woman testified that the alleged victim explicitly protested Johnson’s alleged assault, and when she was finally able to unlock the door and extract herself from the stall, she was visibly rattled from the incident.

In an article by Sarah Sacheli of the Windsor Star published Friday, reportedly testimony from another woman also claims to have experienced a similar encounter with Johnson in the same Krooked Kilt washroom. According to the Star, the witness testified that the Krooked Kilt had an ambiguously unisex “men’s” washroom, where it wasn’t uncommon to find both men and women.

The witness said her encounter happened earlier in the evening, before the alleged assault. The witness said she was occupying a single stall in the men’s washroom when she answered a knock on the door mistakenly thinking it was another girlfriend. She testified that it was Johnson demanding her for oral sex. When she laughingly refused, the man allegedly tried to coerce her into pulling up her shirt.

The witness explained that two male friends intervened during the unwelcome advance. She said the two men told Ben Johnson to ‘let her through’. Although the witness stated she did not feel threatened by Johnson and he did not touch her, the young woman reportedly was shocked by the incident. The witness also testified that she saw Johnson shoving another woman’s hand down his pants while on the dance floor.

In Ben Johnson’s defense, attorney Patrick Ducharme argued that the witnesses were intoxicated and questioned the validity of their testimony. Ducharme claims the witnesses corresponded with each other, and with the alleged victim, suggesting they all may have colluded on evidence.

It was presented to the court that the complainant in the case, who has not yet given testimony, went back to police to amend the date she said the alleged assault took place. During further cross examination, Ducharme pointed out that the complainant did not know the identity of her assaulter until after conducting research online.

At the request of Ducharme, when the trial began a publication ban prohibiting media from disseminating the details of witness testimony. When lawyers representing the Windsor Star and CTV News asked Justice Micheline Rawlins to reconsider, she ruled the publication ban be lifted, and the testimony of witnesses were permissible for public distribution. Freedom of the press laws in Canada don’t give unfettered access to news media for various reasons. Journalists are moderately restricted from reporting on certain judicial proceedings to protect the reputation of the accusers. Most commonly, publication bans are issued when the crime involves minors or is sexual in nature.

In this case, considering the other trial Johnson faces, the restriction of publication was requested because the publicity could cause prejudice against Ducharme’s client and disable a fair trial for the second alleged incident. Justice Rawlins initially ruled in favor of the ban so as not to allow inadmissible evidence influence future proceedings. After the first week of the trial, Rawlins permitted publication of testimony but maintained a standard ban on divulging the identity of the accuser.

Before the trial, the New Jersey Devils signed the forward to an entry-level contract after scoring 28 goals for the Spitfires last season. In a three-year, two-way deal, Johnson and the Devils signed a NHL contract amidst facing charges in the Windsor provincial court. When asked about the charges by numerous reporters, Johnson repeatedly had no comment, and only declared his appreciation for being a part of the New Jersey Devils’ roster.

Although Johnson has stated that he’s eager to put the past behind him, the 20 year old Upper Peninsula native is still not cleared from the Canadian judicial system.

The second charge involving the 16-year-old alleged victim will commence in Canadian Superior Court on a date yet to be scheduled, presumably sometime next year.