Teen guilty in sex case

May 12, 2003 12:00 am

By AMY LINDBLOM

An 18-year-old Sonora man will pay for the rest of his life for what a police detective calls a "stupid" act.

But stupid doesn't explain the whole story. Add in teenage sex and underage drinking.

Jonathan Lee Johnson pleaded guilty Friday in Tuolumne County Superior Court to a charge of oral sex with a 13-year-old girl. Besides spending a year in the county jail and five years on probation, he must register as a sex offender anywhere he lives for the rest of his life.

Johnson's victim was a 13-year-old eighth-grade student who was found on the railroad tracks behind Sonora Crossroads shopping center in the early hours of April 27.

She was unconscious, nearly naked and her blood-alcohol content was close to .30 percent. The legal limit, in drunken driving cases, is .08.

"It got down to 39 degrees that night," said Sonora Police Detective Hal Prock, who investigated, arrested and booked Johnson within an hour after the girl was found. "When they found her, she was lying on her back and unable to move because of her intoxication.

"She would have frozen to death, or if she vomited, would have aspirated and died."

Prock was to testify at a preliminary hearing Friday, but Johnson pleaded guilty to the charge. As part of the plea bargain, Tuolumne County Assistant District Attorney Michael Knowles dropped other charges of lewd acts on a child, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, unlawful sexual intercourse and providing alcohol to a minor.

Had Johnson been convicted by a jury, he could have faced up to eight years in prison.

After Friday's hearing, Prock said he pieced together what happened after talking to Johnson, the girl and other teens said to be with them that night.

The girl and about a dozen other girls and boys, ranging from 13 to 14 years old, from several Tuolumne County schools, left the movie theater about 9 p.m. on April 26.