HANCOCK COUNTY — A Greenfield man has been accused of Level 1 felony sex crimes against a child.
James Edward Johnson, 70, 1000 block of S. Morristown Pike was arrested May 18 and placed under a 72-hour hold. Charges were officially filed Wednesday, May 24 by the Hancock County Prosecutor’s office in Hancock County Superior Court 1.
Johnson has been charged with two Level 1 felony counts of child molesting and three Level 4 felony counts of child molesting from incidents that began in September 2021, court records state. The most serious crime carries up to 40 years in prison.
Johnson made his initial appearance in Superior Court 1 Tuesday morning via video where Judge D. J. Davis set a $150,000 cash bond in the case and noted the high bond was due to the nature of the changes and the concern for the victim in the matter as well as members of the community. Davis also appointed a public defender at the county’s expense.
Davis noted that Johnson was served a protection order Wednesday morning and therefore had no ability to go home. Johnson was in a wheelchair and is on suicide watch at the Hancock County Jail.
According to a probable cause affidavit, an official from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department was dispatched to a county home May 14 for a report of a child molest case. The deputy met with the juvenile victim’s father, who reported he talked with his daughter, 12, after finding disturbing text messages between her and Johnson on her cell phone.
The report states that the victim told her father that Johnson would touch her inappropriately and force her to kiss him. Officials noted the information was given to the Indiana Department of Child Services and the juvenile victim was forensically interviewed at Zoey’s Place on May 16.
During the interview, the victim told officials Johnson had touched her inappropriately many times when she would stay at his home despite her telling Johnson “no.” The victim revealed that Johnson told her that he wanted to have sex with her but he could not because “he was fixed,” the report states.
The victim also told officials Johnson often texted her. The juvenile victim’s father shared text messages he was able to find on his daughter’s phone with officials, the affidavit said. The victim’s father also saw messages on his daughter’s phone where Johnson told her to “delete” their messages and keep their conversations “a secret,” the report stated.
Officials were able to obtain both the juvenile victim and Johnson’s cell phones, the report states, and officials determined the last message sent from Johnson’s cell to the juvenile victim occurred May 13. The messages included Johnson telling the juvenile victim to send him a message of “you know what” and then telling her to “delete that last message,” and to “send me a sexy picture, looking hot, I want a real big kill,” the report states.
There were several other messages officials noted in the report that were not appropriate for a 70-year-old man to send to a 12-year-old, officials said in the affidavit.
When officials interviewed Johnson, he told them he “does text the juvenile victim” and tells her that she is pretty, but only does so to build her ego, the report states. Officials then stated in the affidavit that their interview with Johnson was cut short because of a possible medical emergency. Johnson, officials stated, got out of the chair he was seated in and placed himself on the floor in the fetal position.
“James indicated that he was having trouble breathing,” officials said in the report. “An ambulance was called for James, and he was transported to the hospital.”
Johnson is due back in court Wednesday, July 19 for a pretrial conference.