RACINE — A North Carolina teen didn’t appear in court
Monday with her stepfather, Curt Johnson, as previously ordered because his child sexual assault case didn’t go to trial.
Johnson, 58, an heir to the Johnson family household products fortune, is accused of molesting his teenage stepdaughter for three years while she and her mother lived in Racine County. The girl, now 18, and her mother live in North Carolina.
The teen was ordered in November to travel to Racine County for Johnson’s trial, slated at that time to begin Monday. But the trial was canceled last month after Wisconsin Supreme Court justices failed to act on motions to reconsider rulings they made in the case in July.
During that same December hearing, Racine County Circuit Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz ordered Johnson’s stepdaughter to appear in court Monday because she still was subject to a subpoena. Johnson’s appearance was mandatory, too.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Repischak sought the subpoena to extradite the girl back to Racine County to testify against Johnson, explaining that she and her mother have not been cooperating.
During Monday’s hearing, the teen’s attorney, Kathleen Quinn, said while a Mecklenburg County, N.C., judge did order the teen to return to Wisconsin to testify, that changed when Johnson’s trial was nixed. The teen’s attorney in North Carolina filed a motion to reconsider that ruling, Quinn said.
And on Dec. 19, another Mecklenburg County judge “granted that motion to reconsider ... because her testimony would not be required today.”
Without the court order, the girl “did not voluntarily respond,” Repischak said during Monday’s hearing.
Gasiorkiewicz said he agreed with the Mecklenburg County judge’s December ruling “since there was not going to be actual testimony taken (Monday).”
But he voiced frustration with the lengthy delay by the state’s top justices.
“So we’re still in limbo,” Gasiorkiewicz said during Monday’s hearing, noting that state Supreme Court internal rules delineate criminal cases should take priority. “The Supreme Court has had these motions to reconsider ... since July.”
Johnson’s case remains with the state’s highest court. No timetable for its return has been issued.
Johnson’s Racine County case has been on hold for more than two years while both sides have appealed a series of rulings — including the teen’s and her mother’s refusal to release the girl’s medical records.
Johnson was charged in March 2011 after his stepdaughter, then 15, accused him of sexually assaulting her. She alleged the molestation began when she was 12, according to court records.
Johnson, of Wind Point, is the former chairman of Diversey Inc. and a son of the late SC Johnson chairman, Sam Johnson. Curt Johnson is charged with repeated sexual assault of the same child for allegedly molesting his stepdaughter. Johnson pleaded not guilty on April 13, 2011.
Gasiorkiewicz scheduled a phone conference for Feb. 10 to check on any progress in the case, saying he wants monthly phone conferences with the lawyers.