Mother Found Journal about Molestation
Trial of Former Pastor Continues

By Karen Florin
The Day [New London CT]
December 12, 2006

The mother of a girl who accuses former Norwich Assembly of God Pastor Charles L. Johnson Jr. of molestation testified Monday that she learned of the incidents after finding journal-like writings in her daughter's room that contained "sexual things."

"It was about a man pushing her down and putting his hands in her clothes in inappropriate ways," the woman said in New London Superior Court.

She and her husband confronted their daughter, who told them of the incidents but adamantly refused to report them to authorities, according to testimony from both parents.

Johnson, 53, is on trial for allegedly molesting the girl, now 15, at his Norwich house in 2000 or 2001. Unbeknownst to the six-member jury that will decide his fate, the girl's mother had also complained that Johnson touched her in inappropriate ways. He resigned from the church after 22 years because of allegations of inappropriate sexual contact by the mother and other adult women, though criminal charges were never filed.

The mother was close to tears as she stood at the witness stand to be sworn in Monday. She avoided looking at Johnson, who sat with his attorneys at the defense table. She regained her composure as Senior Assistant State's Attorney Theresa Anne Ferryman interviewed her, but her emotions returned to the surface under cross-examination by defense attorney Peter Bartinik Jr.

Bartinik asked the mother why she threw out the girl's journal describing the crimes.

"It was pretty disgusting," she said. "I didn't want to keep something of that nature in my house."

The mother said she and her husband "prayed" over the problem and told their daughter she needed to attend counseling and report the incidents to authorities, but the girl refused. She eventually disclosed the incidents to a high school English teacher as the class read "The Lovely Bones," a novel by Alice Sebold written from the point of view of a 14-year-old girl who was raped and killed.

The daughter testified Friday that Johnson grabbed her on two occasions as she played a hide-and-seek/tag game with other children during social gatherings at the pastor's Norwich home.

She said he reached up her shirt and groped her in one incident and put his hands in her pants and touched her inappropriately the next time.

The girl and her family were members of the evangelical Protestant church and were close friends of the pastor and his family, living in their house for a short time while the father underwent a career transition.

The relationship shattered when accusations surfaced that Johnson had inappropriately touched the mother and other adult church members.

Police charged the former pastor with first-degree sex assault and risk of injury to a minor last year after the girl disclosed to a teacher that she had been molested. The trial continues today and is expected to last at least through the end of next week.



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