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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Man who raped 13-year-old girl 20 years ago sentenced to 1 year in prison

Aug. 26, 2022 Updated Fri., Aug. 26, 2022 at 10:31 p.m.

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

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

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

The cold case stems from Aug. 21, 2002, when a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a girl reporting she was raped on 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 pickup truck parked nearby. The teenagers went over 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 said. The victim told him she was 13 and he responded saying she looked much older.

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

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

Eventually the other teen girl left the vehicle, leaving the victim and the boy inside the cab of the truck.

Johnson then played with the victim’s hair and kissed her 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 for him to stop, she told deputies.

After the assault, the man allowed the victim to leave, but not before telling her, “You better not tell anyone about this or I will find you and you will 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 the 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 backlogged 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 that was 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’s been in jail since then.

The victim wrote that she’s had a “sense of helplessness” the last 20 years after Johnson “violated” her.

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

She asked for a stronger punishment than one year and that Johnson’s lack of recent criminal history should not be factored in his sentencing.

“That should not matter,” she wrote. “What matters is 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 Spokane County deputy prosecutor Whitney Hall asked for the low end of the range.

Spokane County Superior Court Judge Michelle Szambelan credited Johnson for staying out of trouble and that she was mostly bound by the sentencing range.

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

She called the victim a “survivor.”

“I would hope for your sake that you don’t let him continue to victimize you,” Szambelan said.

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

Johnson, who wore a yellow Spokane County inmate shirt and pants, declined to address the court Friday.

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