Codie Johnson, 20, of Jacksonville, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault of a minor under the age of 16, as well as a misdemeanor count of engaging in a prohibited act, for his role in the assault. With a deferred sentence Johnson will have the felony charges cleared from his record if he successfully completes his probation, which will include regular and special sex offender terms. Johnson’s two co-defendants in the case, Dennis Pike Jr., 28, of Wilmington, and Jonathan Deblois, 21, of Readsboro, were sentenced in March and April respectively, and received similar deferred sentences.
Johnson initially pleaded not guilty to the four charges on July 26, 2013, after the victim told police that she had been raped by the three men at Pike’s East Main Street apartment. Pike, Johnson, and Deblois all admitted to sexual contact with the victim, but claimed it was consensual, and that they believed her to be 18 years of age. According to police affidavits, the men had purchased alcohol for the victim as well, and both Johnson and Pike told police that the victim had become drunk. The victim also told police that the three men “took turns” with her while she was handcuffed to a bed. Johnson told police that the victim revealed to the defendants that she was in fact 14 years old, after all three had sex with her.
Through the plea deal, Johnson also received a nine-to-12 month suspended sentence for the prohibited act charge, while a charge of enabling the consumption of alcohol by a minor was dropped.
At Johnson’s sentencing, his attorney asked that probation terms be changed so that Johnson could remain in contact with a juvenile female relative whom he is close with. Johnson’s attorney also asked that driving restrictions, which require Johnson to obtain permission before driving a vehicle with another individual in the vehicle, be relaxed so that he can give family members rides to work. Suntag, and state’s attorney David Gartenstien said that while they saw no issue with the requests, they would need to discuss them with Johnson’s probation officer.
The sentencing went quickly. Suntag felt no need to go over the details of the case again as Johnson was the third defendant in the same case.
“We would ask the court to please be mindful that this is the third approved arrangement in this case,” said Johnson’s attorney. “We’re hopeful the court would reach a similar conclusion. He feels terrible about this.”
Johnson addressed the court as well, saying he had been working to improve himself since his arrest through employment and by taking care of his family. Johnson became emotional while reading a statement to Suntag, explaining that it was never his intention to cause harm. “I would rather be with my family than behind bars,” said Johnson. “What we did was wrong, but it was not our intention. I would greatly appreciate it if this plea is accepted. I’m willing to follow any rules needed in order not to lose the positive things going for me at this time. I’m truly sorry and remorseful for the things I have done. I want an opportunity to prove myself and I want a chance to show I can succeed.”
Suntag accepted the plea deal, but made it clear to Johnson that if he were to disobey his probation, he would have two felonies remain on his record for life. “Given all of the circumstances and that each of the defendants’ explanations for what they did appears to me to be with sincere regret, I think the outcome recommended is appropriate and I will accept the same resolution (as was reached for the other two defendants).”
“I appreciate you writing down your statement and standing there talking to me,” continued Suntag. “I know that’s hard.”