In a split verdict, a Butler County jury Thursday found ex-Junior ROTC instructor Kevin Johnson guilty of molesting one of his former cadets in the Seneca Valley school military program but not guilty of assaulting a second.
After a four-day trial, jurors found Johnson guilty of charges including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, a first-degree felony, in a case involving a former student who contended they had had a four-year sexual relationship.
Jurors found him not guilty in a second case involving a former student who testified that Johnson molested him and threatened to harm his family if he told anyone.
Johnson, 54, of Portersville, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 19 by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McCune. The retired Army sergeant major remains free on $50,000 bond after the judge denied a request from Assistant District Attorney Mark Lope to revoke the bond.
The former student cadets are not named because Patch does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
In the case involving the first cadet, the jury found Johnson guilty of 20 charges, including indecent assault, corruption of minors and endangering the welfare of children.
That former cadet, now a 22-year-old college student, was present as the verdict was read. He said he carried on a sexual relationship with Johnson from 2004 to 2008 while he was a student at Seneca Valley High School.
Earlier in the trial, the young man testified that he and Johnson routinely had sex in the school's Junior ROTC area, Johnson’s car, and in other locations while he was a student.
In his closing argument, Lope said Jackson Township police found in Johnson's office items described to them by the first cadet, including a two-by-four foot board with check marks penciled on it that the former cadet said represented his sexual encounters with Johnson.
In the case of the second cadet, however, the jury found Johnson not guilty of all charges stemming from his account, including a count of statutory sexual assault.
The second cadet testified Tuesday that Johnson threatened to “take out" his family after he rebuffed his former instructor’s sexual advances. That former student, who now is 20, also detailed five incidents in 2006 and 2007 in which he said Johnson molested him on school grounds.
Taking the stand to testify Wednesday, Johnson denied sexually assaulting or threatening students.
In a final plea to jurors before they began deliberations, defense attorney David Shrager implored them to be "brave" in their decision.
"Give this man back his life," Shrager said. "Give this man's family back their lives."
As the guilty verdicts were read, members of Johnson’s family who accompanied him to the trial, including his wife and his mother, began to sob.
Shrager said he plans to appeal the verdict to state Superior Court.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed," he said of the verdict. "I was hoping my client would be acquitted of all charges."
Lope described his reaction as mixed, saying the jury came back with the right decision in the case of the first young man.
"All and all, I'm not unhappy with it," he said.
This week's trial was the second for Johnson. His first trial in 2009 ended in a mistrial after Len Keller, the then-police chief of Jackson Township, testified that Johnson had declined to submit to a polygraph test. The test results are not admissible in court.
Since the charges filed in 2008, a civil lawsuit filed by both former cadets has been settled for $100,000, with $40,000 allocated for attorney fees and the remaining $60,000 split by the two former cadets.