Thursday, 19 June 2008

Woman charged with repeated sexual abuse of relative

Friday, June 13, 2008
BY Robert Wang

A Lake Township woman is accused of forcing an underage female relative in her care to repeatedly engage in sexual activity with her and her boyfriend.

Virginia Johnson, 38, of 12305 King Church Ave. NW, was arrested at her home around noon Wednesday, said Sgt. Dave Brown of the Summit County sheriff's investigations division.

Johnson faces felony charges of rape, permitting child abuse, sexual battery, disseminating material involving a minor and unlawful restraint, a sheriff's statement said. She's being held at the Summit County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bond. Johnson is set to appear in Barberton Municipal Court on Wednesday.

Johnson's boyfriend, Stephan C. Brothers, 40, of Raber Terrace in Green, killed himself April 28, Brown said.

The suicide occurred six days after deputies raided Brothers' and Johnson's homes, seizing nine computers, hard drives, USB thumb drives, DVDs and three cameras. The sergeant said that investigators came across child pornographic images in the case, but he declined to elaborate.

Brown said the sexual crimes started in 2005 and occurred until this year at Brothers' and Johnson's homes. The investigation was launched April 18, when the girl visited a sheriff's station in Green to report what had happened. She gave deputies a USB thumb drive with images of her that showed her partially nude.

With the evidence, deputies got search warrants from the Summit County and Stark County Common Pleas courts and raided Brothers' and Johnson's homes April 22.

On April 28, a family member told deputies that Brothers had stopped answering his calls, Brown said. A deputy found Brothers dead in his garage, after he had pumped deadly carbon monoxide into his vehicle. According to his obituary, he was a 1986 McKinley High School graduate, a Navy veteran and a plumber. His death notice said he enjoyed roller skating with his son.

It took about six weeks for the Summit County Computer Crimes Unit to find enough evidence on the computers to obtain an arrest warrant for Johnson. Brown said someone had tried to delete data, but the unit was able to recover much of it.

When deputies swooped in to arrest Johnson in Lake Township, she put up no resistance, Brown said. Her mother was with her.

Johnson's attorney, Joe Gorman, could not be reached for comment.

Brown said investigators now are trying to determine if there are other victims.

The deputy said Johnson actively dated people through the Web site, and that investigators have spoken with people she met online. He said they have not found sufficient evidence that Johnson and Brothers were part of any interstate distribution of child pornography.

Brown declined to say whether pictures of the victim were posted online.

"She's looking at a long time," Brown said about Johnson. "This is one of the worst cases."

Reach Repository writer Robert Wang at (330) 580-8327 or e-mail:

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