A Roseburg man who was 33 when he supplied alcohol to a 15-year-old girl and then had sex with her was sentenced to probation and a lifetime label of “sex offender.”
Matthew Evan Johnson, 34, pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse and four counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor after Douglas County Circuit Judge Ronald Poole refused to accept a no-contest plea.
Poole said he would never accept a no-contest plea to sexual abuse because sex offenders are often asked to admit the facts of their criminal history during treatment.
In a no-contest plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state’s case could result in a conviction and allows the defendant to accept a plea deal.
Poole reminded Johnson that he could still demand a jury trial and called a short recess to allow Johnson to weigh his options with his attorney.
After the recess, Johnson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve 36 months on probation and pay fines totaling $4,500. Johnson, who has been in custody, was given paperwork to register as a sex offender and told to sign up for a year of treatment, which will include polygraph tests and conditions such as avoiding places where children frequent.
Poole told Johnson that he thought the sentence was too light and that he would “throw the book” at Johnson if he violated probation.
Johnson’s attorney, Kareen LaValley, said after the hearing that she disagreed with the judge that a lifetime label as a sex offender is a light sentence.
“His life is going to be hell,” she said.
According to police, the victim and a 15-year-old friend went to Johnson’s house on the evening of March 14, 2012. Johnson went to a store and bought them Mike’s Hard Lemonade. After the girls invited two high school boys to the house, Johnson returned to the store to get more alcohol.
The friend and the boys eventually left, leaving Johnson and the victim alone, Deputy District Attorney Shannon Sullivan said.
The next month, the girl, now 16, reported the incident to a Roseburg police officer, who subsequently left the department. After a different officer picked up the case earlier this year, Johnson was charged with multiple sex abuse crimes.
The victim provided several written statements to Judge Poole, but didn’t speak at the sentencing. Her parents were in court, but declined to give a statement.
Johnson’s mother was also in attendance. Following the hearing, she said her son doted on her during a recent battle with breast cancer and was a positive force in the community.
• You can reach reporter Garrett Andrews at 541-957-4218 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.