Victims in 10-Year-Old sexual assault case receive justice when rapist sentenced to 6-15 years

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey S. Getting have announced that Michael Vincenzo Johnson, 30, formerly of Casper, Wyoming, has been sentenced to 6-15 years in prison following his guilty pleas to two counts of Third-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.

Johnson was sentenced March 20 in 9th Circuit Court by Judge Kenneth Barnard pursuant to a plea agreement in the assault of two women in two unrelated incidents in January and February of 2013.

The first victim, an 18-year-old freshman at Western Michigan University (WMU) at the time, was raped in Johnson’s WMU dorm room after she became highly intoxicated at an off-campus party in late January of 2013. Johnson raped the second victim, a 16-year-old high school junior, six weeks later in her own home in Augusta, Michigan in mid-February of 2013.

These cases came to light as part of the Kalamazoo County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI), a partnership between the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office, and the YWCA of Kalamazoo. The Kalamazoo SAKI team consists of a prosecutor from the Attorney General’s Office, two deputized investigators employed by the Kalamazoo Prosecutor’s Office, and a victim advocate/therapist employed by the YWCA.

The Kalamazoo SAKI project, which started in 2017, has been tasked with re-investigating approximately 225 cold-case sexual assaults, most of which were originally reported to law enforcement agencies in Kalamazoo County, but the sexual assault evidence kits were never submitted for testing. Over the last six years, the Kalamazoo SAKI project has identified and prosecuted dozens of serial sexual offenders like Johnson.

“I applaud the members of Kalamazoo SAKI and participating law enforcement agencies in Michigan and Wyoming for facilitating this plea and being instrumental in removing a predator from our streets,” Nessel said. “The courage of these victims was essential in order to pursue this case. We look forward to continuing our ongoing work with Kalamazoo SAKI in bringing the perpetrators of sexual assault to justice.”

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Getting said, “Once again we see the value that the Kalamazoo SAKI team brings to our community. Knowing that the victims of this perpetrator are seeing justice finally accomplished and having a role in making that happen is very rewarding.”

Both of Johnson’s victims have spoken about how their rape experiences have had long-term negative impacts on their lives and well-being. They have also spoken about how their cases were handled by the criminal justice system in 2013, which made them feel that they were not believed or valued and that what had happened to them didn’t matter.

Both victims expressed gratitude and relief on Monday, saying that their voices have finally been heard now that Johnson has admitted to what he did to them and will serve time in prison.

One victim told the court through her victim impact statement, “My freshman year of university, I was raped by a friend of a friend. Someone who made me feel bad for them and then took advantage of me when I could not say no, when I could not fight back, when I was vulnerable. He made me a victim, he made me a statistic, he made me hate myself and others around me. My stomach turns and my body is filled with anxiety and disgust when I think about this assault on me. And I, unfortunately, think about it daily, still, almost a decade later. He took innocence and made victims; he took dreams and created nightmares; he took trust and made hypervigilance. It haunts me forever. And I would give anything to not remember.”

In her victim impact statement, the second victim told the court, “Today is the day I have waited ten years for. A decade - 3,685 days. Today, you see a 26-year-old woman standing in front of you, deep inside is a 16-year-old child, ravenous to come out of the cage she’s been hiding in. In 2013, I was a junior in high school and I was raped in my own home. The next morning, I told my mother what had happened.”

The victim went on to detail that she went to the YWCA and had completed a rape kit and had reported her assault to the Augusta Police Department.

After giving her statement to the police in February 2013, the victim never heard anything about the case again until she was contacted by SAKI investigators in November 2021 as a result of a tip SAKI received from a witness in the January 2013 case indicating that there may be a second victim who was raped by Johnson in February 2013. The Augusta Police Department could not find any records about the victim reporting this rape in 2013, despite the defendant’s confirmation that he was interviewed about the assault and despite Augusta Police Department submitting the second victim’s rape kit for DNA testing in 2013.

The second victim also told the court, “Think about how it would feel to speak out about your assault and then you're not taken seriously, you’re forgotten about ... this whole process has now helped me re-open a wound that was scarred and allowed me to heal it the right way. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. The impact doesn’t go away, you learn to live with it…now I can open a new chapter in my life.”

Before handing down Johnson’s sentence, Judge Barnard thanked the victims for being in court and for having their voices heard. He addressed the delay in justice in this case saying, “This 10-year delay has given us insight into how victims are affected even 10 years later. And how offenders are affected when they are not held accountable because [Johnson] went on to commit other offenses in [the state of] Wyoming. Ten years after this event and they are still suffering.” The judge went on to tell Johnson, “Today, accountability is happening. You are going to account for your crimes. It is ‘the long arm of the law’ as they say.”

Johnson has been registered with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry and will be required to register for the rest of his life.


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