PORT TOWNSEND — A convicted Level II sex offender has been charged with second-degree child molestation based on an incident that allegedly occurred nearly a decade ago.
Christopher Robert Johnson, 34, of Port Townsend pleaded not guilty to charges filed March 3 before Court Commissioner Stephen Gillard on Friday.
A three-day trial is set to begin June 8 in Jefferson County Superior Court.
Johnson was released on his personal recognizance and ordered not to have contact with the alleged victim.
Ben Critchlow, Johnson’s defense attorney, took issue with the length of time that has lapsed as the alleged incident occurred either on July 4, 2011, or July 4, 2012, according to charging papers.
The alleged victim was an extended family member who was either 10 or 11 years old at the time, charging documents said.
Johnson, 15 years older than the alleged victim, was either 26 or 27, the documents said.
A Level II sex offender is deemed to be a moderate risk to re-offend.
“This incident happened nine or 10 years ago, and the investigation concluded four years ago,” Critchlow said. “There’s no explanation why this took so long.”
Sex crimes against children or minors 16 and younger are among the few in the state that do not have a statute of limitations. Others include murder, homicide by abuse, arson, vehicular homicide or vehicular assault where a death occurs, according to state code (RCW 9A.04.080).
Second-degree child molestation is a Class B felony punishable by a maximum of 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine.
If he is convicted, this would be considered a strike under the state’s three-strike rule that would require life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to charging documents.
The probable cause affidavit, written by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Det. Shane Stevenson and signed Dec. 1, 2016, said the alleged victim spoke to deputy Darrin Dotson in a child forensic interview earlier that March.
Statements the alleged victim provided said several people slept on a trampoline at a Fourth of July gathering at a home in Chimacum. At one time, the person’s mother slept between the alleged victim and Johnson.
After the mother reportedly went inside the house to sleep, the alleged victim told Dotson of awakening as Johnson had his hand down the person’s pants, making skin-to-skin contact, according to court documents.
Johnson also made contact under the person’s shirt, the statement said.
The alleged victim got up and moved locations, and Johnson again attempted to make contact, charging papers said.
Everyone else on the trampoline was asleep at the time, the alleged victim stated.
At one point, the alleged victim left the trampoline to sleep inside the house, and said Johnson also came into the residence but stayed in a different room, according to court documents.
The alleged victim had kept it a secret until 2016, when the person told the story to a friend. That person later used a group chat message to tell the alleged victim’s mother and grandmother, court papers said.
At that time, Johnson was a month away from being released from Airway Heights Corrections Center, where he served time for a 2014 conviction in Jefferson County for voyeurism and using force while committing indecent liberties.
When Johnson was released from custody and transferred to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in 2016, Dotson informed him of the complaint.
Johnson said he remembered sleeping on the trampoline with other people and said he had been “drinking a lot of alcohol” when he was there for the Fourth of July, according to court documents.
“Christopher articulated concerns he had regarding anyone being able [to] make an unfounded sex offense allegation against him, and that he would look bad because of his sex conviction,” Stevenson wrote in his report.
Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].