A local man was found not guilty of three counts of child rape following a two-day jury trial this week.
The jury found Andrew Johnson guilty of simple assault and acquitted him on all three rape charges after changing testimony from the alleged victim. He will be sentenced for the misdemeanor in September and could receive no more than an 11-month, 29-day jail term.
In two days of testimony Monday and Tuesday, prosecutors claimed Johnson sexually assaulted the female victim, who was under 13 at the time, back in 2011. He was arrested when the victim came forward in 2013.
At that time, the girl was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center and claimed Johnson touched her private areas with his penis. However, she refused to make those claims during trial and changed her testimony to indicate such events never happened.
“That was definitely a key part of the case,” said District Attorney Lisa Zavogiannis.
Added defense attorney Joshua Crain, “I don’t think the jury liked the idea there was a decision made from day one that Mr. Johnson did it, that he was guilty, and nothing else after that mattered. The girl’s testimony certainly played a major role in the decision.”
Despite the girls conflicting claims, prosecutors forged ahead with their case and used her initial statements to social workers as the backbone of their argument.
Questions about the girl’s initial statements were raised by her mother, who took the stand to testify Monday. The mother testified that her interest was finding the truth and she wasn’t convinced any crime took place.
The mother initially brought her daughter to talk to investigators on June 1, 2013, a Saturday. Based on her statements of what took place, Johnson was arrested.
After Johnson was in jail, the girl returned with her mother three days later to change her story.