Man who raped 13-year-old girl 20 years ago sentenced to 1 year in prison

Aug. 27—A man arrested earlier this year for raping a 13-year-old girl two decades ago was sentenced Friday to a year in prison.

Richard J. Johnson, 54, pleaded guilty last month to third-degree rape after attacking the teenager in a truck near Elk.

“You shattered me into a million pieces and I have spent the last 20 years cleaning up the mess you made,” according to a statement read by a victim advocate on behalf of the victim on Friday.

The cold case dates back to Aug. 21, 2002, when a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy responded to a girl who reported being raped in the 40000 block of N. Elk Camden Road, according to court documents.

The girl was at Elk Community Park with two friends when they heard music coming from a truck parked nearby. The teenagers went to talk to the man, who turned out to be Johnson.

Johnson asked the ages of the girl and her friends, a boy and a girl, documents state. The victim told him she was 13 and he responded by saying she looked much older.

The teenagers got into the truck to listen to music and Johnson began smoking “crank,” a slang term for amphetamines, usually methamphetamine.

The man asked the girls to show him their breasts and the girls did so, the victim told deputies at the time.

Finally the other teenage girl left the vehicle, leaving the victim and the boy in the cab of the truck.

Johnson then played with the victim’s hair and kissed her on the neck before telling the boy to get out of the truck, according to documents. When the boy said he wanted to stay with his friend, the man yelled at the boy to get out of the truck.

The man locked the girl in the truck and raped her, despite her pleas to stop, he told deputies.

After the attack, the man allowed the victim to leave, but not before telling her, “You better not tell anyone about this or I’m going to find you and you’re going to regret it,” court records said.

The girl reported the rape immediately after the man let her out of his truck.

Detectives collected the victim’s clothing, evidence in a sexual assault kit and chewing tobacco the man left at the scene. A suspect was not identified at that time and the sexual assault kit remained untested.

In 2020, the rape kit was analyzed by the Washington State Crime Lab as part of the Sexual Assault Kit Testing Initiative that required all accumulated kits to be tested by the end of last year.

A few months later, the DNA profile from the kit matched Johnson’s DNA profile listed in CODIS, a national law enforcement DNA database. Johnson has a few criminal convictions in Spokane County, including solicitation to commit possession of a controlled substance from 2011 and criminal trespass and possession of stolen property from 2008.

An arrest warrant was issued for Johnson, who was taken into custody during an April 20 traffic stop in Spokane. He has been in prison ever since.

The victim wrote that she had a “feeling of helplessness” for the past 20 years after Johnson “violated” her.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about it,” she wrote.

He asked for a stiffer sentence than one year and that Johnson’s lack of a recent criminal record should not be factored into his sentencing.

“This shouldn’t matter,” he wrote. “What matters is that he violated me when I was a child and he was an adult.”

The standard sentencing range for Johnson was six to 12 months in prison. Johnson’s attorney, Jeff Leslie, and Deputy Spokane County District Attorney Whitney Hall asked for the low end of the range.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michelle Szambelan found Johnson unable to face trouble and was bound primarily by the range of the sentence.

“I’m sure there’s no punishment that would ever undo the trauma,” Szambelan said.

He called the victim a “survivor.”

“I would hope for your sake that you would not let him continue to anger you,” said Szambelan.

Szambelan said six months was not enough time and imposed the high end of the sentencing range. Johnson will serve a year of community custody when he is released and must register as a sex offender.

Johnson, who was wearing a yellow Spokane County inmate shirt and pants, declined to speak in court Friday.

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