A 16-year-old Ohio boy accused of multiple counts of rape and other charges admitted to sexually assaulting three teenage girls as part of a plea agreement that reduces the most serious charges against him.
Cody Johnson of Pataskala was arrested in September on juvenile charges including rape, attempted rape, kidnapping and sexual imposition. His trial began Thursday before Judge Robert Hoover in Licking County Juvenile Court.
Johnson was accused of assaulting seven girls between March 2008 and May 26. The incidents reportedly took place at various locations in Licking and Fairfield counties, including on a Southwest Licking school bus, at the scene of a "Haunted Forest" at a Pataskala park and at Johnson's home.
The girls were between 14 and 16 years old at the time of Johnson's arrest, according to court records. The kidnapping charges stem from accusations that Johnson held several of the girls down or otherwise restrained them while assaulting them. Two of the three rape charges are based on accusations of digital penetration, while the third is for forced intercourse, according to the complaint.
One of the girls, who testified Thursday, said Johnson pushed her against a wall while trying to put his hands down her shorts near a baseball park in Pataskala. She said Johnson told her to "let it happen" when she told him no, and did not stop until she punched him in the face and walked away.
Three of the most serious charges -- two juvenile counts of rape and a count of attempted rape -- were reduced to two juvenile counts of felony gross sexual imposition and a misdemeanor count of sexual imposition as part of the deal. All other charges were dropped in exchange for Johnson's admission to the crimes.
Prosecutors have said a girl came forward after she was assaulted on May 26, which led to the investigation and the discovery of additional victims. All seven of the victims testified in court on Thursday, as did a male classmate who said he overheard Johnson bragging about his actions at school.
The plea reached yesterday avoided a second full day of testimony and was agreed to before any witnesses for the defense had testified.
Prosecutor Alice Bond, who presented the case despite being appointed this month as chief of the Crime Victims Assistance and Prevention section of the Ohio attorney general's office, said in court yesterday that the victims and their families all agreed to the terms of the deal.
Court Administrator David Edelblute said Johnson could be held by the state's Department of Youth Services from as little as a year to as long as until he turns 21 if he is sentenced consecutively on both of the felony charges.
Edelblute said that the judge asked Johnson on each of the charges he admitted to if the girl involved had said no, and Johnson admitted in each case that they had and he assaulted them anyway.
A hearing to determine Johnson's sentence will be held in about 45 days. Johnson will remain on house arrest, including electronic GPS monitoring, until then, Edelblute said.
Copyright (c) 2011, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio
By Josh Jarman - The Columbus Dispatch (MCT)
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
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