January 29, 2005

Reverend pleads not guilty to assault on 4-year-old city girl

LITCHFIELD (CT)
Register Citizen

TRACY KENNEDY, Register Citizen Staff 01/29/2005

LITCHFIELD - The Rev. W. James Johnson, a Waterbury pastor who denies he sexually assaulted a 4-year-old Torrington girl, pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in Litchfield Superior Court on Friday.

Johnson, a minister for 25 years, stood before Judge Charles D. Gill on Friday to answer charges of first-degree sexual assault and allegedly having illicit sexual contact with a minor under 16 years of age in May. The case was continued until Feb. 18.

Behind him every seat of the gallery was filled with family members, friends, and members of his church, The Community Tabernacle Out-reach Center, Waterbury, which serves 275 members. Many of Johnsonís supporters who waited about four hours for the hearing to begin, held colorful posters that read "We love you pastor."

At liberty after posting a $200,000 bond, Johnson said he flatly denies the allegations. "Itís absolutely false," he said. "People definitely donít have all of the details."

Defense attorney Leonard Crone said, "My client has consistently denied these allegations. The case has been continued three weeks and during that time we will do some discovery and investigation of our own to prepare a defense in this case."

Posted by kshaw at January 29, 2005 06:45 AM