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Johnson arrested for child sex abuse

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POLSON — According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, on Oct. 5 at approximately 5:30 p.m., Lake County 911 took a report of a suspicious male in a work truck attempting to lure a girl under the age of 16 to his home in the Polson area. Deputies responded and in the ensuing investigation determined that the girl was walking home when she was approached by the male and offered money to come to his home.

With the statements and evidence gathered by deputies, it was determined that the crime of “sexual abuse of children by enticing, coercing, or encouraging a child under 16 to engage in sexual conduct” had been committed.

Deputies identified the suspect as Polson man Scott William Johnson, 59, and arrested him at his home a short time later. 

Johnson was previously arrested for felony criminal possession of dangerous drugs by Lake County Sherriff’s Deputies in 2018 following a months-long investigation that culminated in their witnessing a drug deal involving Johnson. 

Deputies involved in that investigation had interviewed an unidentified “citizens informant” who indicated they had purchased methamphetamine from Johnson a week prior to his arrest in exchange for cash and sexual services. As Johnson was a bus driver during this time, the informant also stated they smoked meth in the bus barn, in the school’s blue and white “sports bus,” and other buses.

On Sept. 27, 2018, Johnson plead guilty to a single count criminal possession of dangerous drugs during a change of plea hearing. Additional felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and criminal distribution of dangerous drugs were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. That part of the agreement was initially rejected by District Judge Deborah “Kim” Christopher after receiving numerous complaints by concerned citizens through social media postings and calls made to the Lake County Clerk of District Court’s office. Experts testified during an evidentiary hearing in February 2018 that the state could not prove the facts supporting endangerment and distribution charges.

Lake County Chief Deputy Attorney James Lapotka explained to Judge Christopher that the distribution charge was based on circumstantial evidence that could be difficult to prove at trial. Johnson’s attorney Britt Cotter told the judge that there was no definitive proof that meth was ever used on the bus. Although two buses and the bus barn initially tested positive for methamphetamine, Lapotka explained that more extensive testing showed the levels of meth that were detected did not pose a health risk.

As for the alleged trading of sexual services for methamphetamine Lapotka explained there was no force involved, and that if that did occur it was between consenting adults.

In accordance with a plea agreement, on March 14, 2019, Judge Christopher deferred sentencing for 3 years. Additionally, Johnson presented the court with a check in the amount of $11,765 to pay for any clean-up costs incurred by the St. Ignatius School District. Johnson also presented proof that he voluntarily and successfully completed a 28-day drug treatment program satisfying a concern of the court.

Facing the current charges of sexual abuse, Johnson was booked into the Lake County Jail and is awaiting trial. 

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