Montana youth counselor sentenced for rape of teen - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana youth counselor sentenced for rape of teen

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A Laurel man who used his position as a youth detention counselor to have sex with a 17-year-old girl was sentenced Tuesday to five years with the Montana Department of Corrections.

Brad Johnson, 38, pleaded guilty in Yellowstone County District Court to two counts of sexual intercourse without consent in February. A plea agreement was not filed.

On Tuesday, Judge Ingrid Gustafson sentenced Johnson to 15 years, with 10 suspended and a recommendation to a sex offender treatment program.

"Mr. Johnson, you've caused great havoc in the community with your actions," said Gustafson. "You took advantage of this young woman who was potentially at her most vulnerable and then you preyed on her vulnerability. That's inexcusable."

Johnson is married with three children and his wife was pregnant at the time of the offense.

The lead detective in the case said the victim was six months pregnant when she was placed in the Ted Lechner Youth Services Center, where Johnson worked as a counselor.

Johnson had supervising authority over the victim and could transfer her to the detention center if she did not cooperate, the detective said.

Johnson is a graduate of the Kansas Law Enforcement Academy and has specialized training in sexual assault and child physical and sexual abuse.

The detective said Johnson's phone contained more than 5,400 images of pornography. Many of the images were actually GIF files, the detective said, and they depicted lesbian and teen sexual acts.

There was also pornography of minors on Johnson's phone, including a pre-pubescent girl. The images were sent to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children but could not be identified.

Johnson's attorney, Vern Woodward, asked the detective for confirmation that not all of the pornographic images were of minors and the detective agreed.

Woodward said that, while the victim could not legally consent because of her status at the jail, she did voluntarily engage in sexual acts with Johnson. The detective said that was true.

The victim told Johnson she no longer wanted to participate in the relationship because Johnson was married, so he countered by making her feel guilty, the detective said.

Michael Sullivan, a clinical social worker who specializes in sexual misconduct, was called by the defense to testify. Sullivan said Johnson completed a sexual interests test and showed no signs of pedophilic interest.

Johnson did exemplify significant symptoms of depression, Sullivan said. Woodward asked if depression could cloud judgement or make unusual decisions, and Sullivan said it could.

Johnson was determined by the tests to be a low risk sexual offender, said Sullivan who recommended Johnson be treated and supervised in the community.

Prosecutors asked if Johnson's depression would have impaired him from acting within the law, and Sullivan said it wouldn't have.

Howard Lewis, the director of South Central Treatment Providers, was called to testify. Lewis said Johnson has been doing very well in his sexual offender treatment program. 

Lewis said he does not have concerns about Johnson being around his children as long as they are supervised. Johnson can be successfully treated in a community setting, Lewis said.

Prosecutors recommended a sentence of 20 years to Montana State Prison, with 10 years suspended.

Prosecutors said Johnson's case was similar to the case of former Billings teacher Stacey Rambold, who was sentenced to prison for having sex with an underage student.

Woodward said Johnson is a decent, hardworking citizen who made a mistake. Woodward also said society has begun imprisoning people who it's mad at and not who pose an actual threat to society.

Johnson took the stand and told the judge he is sorry for what he's done and that his poor marriage caused him to be depressed and act out.

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