Trial

Final arguments in Johnson case focus on accuser

2013-03-01T23:00:00Z 2014-10-03T14:28:01Z Final arguments in Johnson case focus on accuser missoulian.com

Jordan Johnson may have been the one on trial, but closing arguments in his case Friday focused on the woman who said he raped her last year.

A seven-woman, five-man Missoula County District Court jury later acquitted Johnson of sexual intercourse without consent.

During his closing argument, defense attorney David Paoli spoke of reasonable doubt – not the doubt afforded any defendant in a criminal case, but in this instance, to the woman who accused Johnson.

“This courtroom is full of doubt,” Paoli said. “Do you believe (the woman) beyond a reasonable doubt?”

Paoli repeatedly presented what he termed “fabrications” by the woman, calling her “vengeful” and “malicious.”

Assistant Attorney General Joel Thompson referred to such comments when he said the woman “has had to crawl through a proverbial tunnel of sewage to get here to tell her story.”

For victims of date rape, the process on display during the Johnson trial was more important than the jury’s decision, said Cindy Weese, of the YWCA Missoula. The trial illustrated what victims confront when they choose to report those crimes.

“It’s going to be a grueling process, and their life is going to be exposed to everyone,” said Weese, YWCA director. “… No matter the verdict, (the case) is going to have a chilling effect on victims of sexual assault.”

County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said the case is just one example of an acquaintance rape allegation.

As to whether the verdict in this case would affect future prosecutions, “every case is unique,” he said. “You can’t make generalizations.”

The woman’s story involved a date that started with the two watching a movie in her bedroom, an encounter that moved quickly from kissing to making out to taking each other’s shirts off. Johnson stopped the first time she said no, but ignored later protests, the woman testified during the trial.

“This is a case of what rape really looks like,” Assistant Chief Deputy County Attorney Suzy Boylan said in her closing argument to jurors Friday, referencing statistics that the vast majority of rapes involve people who know each other. “It is a confusing betrayal of trust.”

All along, though, the defense maintained the woman was upset when, after consensual sex, Johnson got up immediately without any cuddling and didn’t talk to her other than to say, “Well, thanks,” when she drove him home.

In a courtroom packed with many supporters of Johnson, including Grizzlies football players and coaches, Paoli said that “this is not about Grizzlies football. It’s about what people do when they’re vengeful and they want to take it out on somebody.”

The woman and her family and friends also were in the courtroom during closing arguments. She sat stone-faced as, at one point, Paoli lay a life-size cardboard outline of a woman on the courtroom floor and climbed atop it, purporting to show the jury that the assault could not have happened the way she described.

Thompson derided the vengeance theory, telling jurors that if revenge were the woman’s motivation, she went about it exceedingly badly.

“She apparently knew that screaming and yelling wouldn’t be authentic,” he said, “... and she decided apparently that the best way to help her lie was to give him a ride home. What a great thing to do to further her malicious plot.”

***

Throughout the trial, the defense emphasized the fact that the woman did not cry for help during the alleged attack, despite the fact that one housemate was playing video games in the living room, and another was asleep in the apartment.

Indeed, said Paoli in his closing argument, “it’s common sense to talk about the fact that she didn’t scream, she didn’t roll off the bed.”

In order for a person to be convicted of sexual intercourse without consent, Montana law requires that the sex have been non-consensual and the defendant to know there was no consent. But resistance by the victim is not required.

Boylan maintained the case was “not about an insensitive lover who didn’t cuddle. It’s about a defendant who didn’t take no for an answer.”

Nor, she said, was the case – as the defense repeatedly characterized it – a matter of “he said-she said.”

“We don’t call anything else but sex offenses ‘he said-she said,’ ” Boylan said. “If a person was mugged in an alley, would we be skeptical?”

Likewise, she asked, would a victim of a property crime be dismissed because the door was left unlocked?

The YWCA’s Weese noted that the young woman who accused Johnson went through an excruciating experience in the preparation of the case. And the community witnessed it.

“It sends a message to all women. This is what you have to confront if you’re going to come forward,” Weese said following Friday afternoon’s verdict.

Missoulian reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, gwen.florio@missoulian.com, or @CopsAndCourts.

Copyright 2015 missoulian.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(32) Comments

  1. Re-Made in Montana
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    Re-Made in Montana - March 02, 2013 11:03 pm
    Um, no.
  2. glacierdude
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    glacierdude - March 02, 2013 6:09 pm
    One MAJOR difference, innocent vs. not guilty.

    If you plead not guilty of a crime it is then incumbent upon the prosecution to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and the defendant is not required to take the stand. if you pleasd innoceit is then incumbent upon you to prove tyhat byou, indeed,l are innocent of the crime of which you have been charged. BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!!
  3. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - March 02, 2013 5:18 pm
    Agreed. If Florio stays make sure her work stays in the opinion section. Reading articles from around the country regarding this case confirms just how openly biased her reporting is. It truly makes me ill.
  4. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - March 02, 2013 2:26 pm
    The only thing Johnson is guilty of is not calling for a second date, or at least breakfast and flowers..

    "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."
    William Congreve
  5. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - March 02, 2013 2:20 pm
    It's a real shame that Narles Yde-Layne didn't have Mr. Paoli as attorney to help with his defense. Narles was the Carrol College football player who took his life under the pressure from a later admitted false rape allegation that had strong racial overtones. I knew Narles from the time he was a little kid in Helena, and a nicer young man you'll never find.
    Narles, like Johnson, was innocent of the accused crime.

  6. detonate
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    detonate - March 02, 2013 2:17 pm
    Lives have been changed forever. It is now time to move on. The respective legal counsels have brought their cases to trial and a verdict has been rendered. Sometimes in life we don't even understand ourselves. I now ask that the Missoulian ends their biased crusade and goes about selling newspapers the old fashioned way. Hard work, integrity and a open mind come to the forefront. This article and any future hacking needs to end today. I'm reminded of the last scene of "Sharkeys Machine" from these continuing slanted articles. Remember, the albino criminal falling many stories from the high rise tower as he fires his pistol in desperation? All while an inevitable concrete landing awaits. Please move on to your business now.
  7. Chuck Feney
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    Chuck Feney - March 02, 2013 2:15 pm
    Don't Stop Punctuating!

    Now the evidence has all been presented,
    The jury said she must have consented
    'Cause when he got on top
    And she said Don't Stop
    Her lack of punctuation is now lamented!
    _____
    C.U.F.
  8. Re-Made in Montana
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    Re-Made in Montana - March 02, 2013 11:13 am
    Wouldn't that be interesting if, as a matter of statute, the state had to reimburse the defendant for his representation in not guilty verdicts.
  9. Re-Made in Montana
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    Re-Made in Montana - March 02, 2013 11:09 am
    Looks like sex will have to be handled like every other potentially litigious situation, have her sign a release/waiver before intercourse. Standard form should be included in all condom packages. No release of liability, no bunga bunga party.
  10. logic
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    logic - March 02, 2013 8:02 am
    Now it's proven that Jordan is the 'victim". This will follow him the rest of his life. Her legal fees were paid by the state and he and his family had to cough up his fees. Jordan should sue "Miss Doe" for his legal fees and lick his wounds over all the mess this has thrown his life into.
  11. Roger
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    Roger - March 02, 2013 7:30 am
    Defense lawyer Suzie Boylan's comment "if a person was mugged in an alley, would we be skeptical?" is nonsense. If the woman was allegedly raped in an alley, instead of a bedroom, a rape accusation certainly would be more credible.

    They claim that a "not guilty" verdict does not mean "innocent" - well, it does in my book. If a person is "not guilty", then why is he not innocent? If not innocent, what is he - partly guilty, a little bit guilty, not quite innocent, or what?
  12. Roger
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    Roger - March 02, 2013 7:16 am
    Thank goodness we have a justice system that does not equate being accused of a crime with being automatically convicted.
  13. PhilT
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    PhilT - March 02, 2013 12:41 am

    There is no way from the evidence reported for the jury to come to a conclusion as to what happened.

    Now the young woman, who if she was victim, was victimized a second time by the case being filed because she probably is thinking no one "believed" her which is not necessarily the case at all. A lack of physical evidence or witnesses to the incident would make most prosecutors pause and reflect before charging a case and hoping for a guilty verdict. A prosecutor is only supposed to charge a case when they have enough evidence to sustain a guilty verdict at trial. In my opinion they did not have that. Anecdotal witnesses attempting to quantify one level of crying as opposed to another level is not particularly probative.

    I have no empathy for sexual offenders in any way. It's important to remember the prosecutor has to prove the case with significant evidence that is not subject to interpretation or nuanced explanations. I don't know if a culposcope was used in the physical examination of this young woman but if so, it might have provided more physical corroboration of her allegation. Politics and the criminal legal system are a dangerous mix often with tragic consequences for the accuser and accused

    The sexual revolution of the late sixties and early seventies was purported to be a means to liberate women and free them from objectification. It has done neither and only made things worse. If you are the victim of a sexual assault report it and seek accountability for those who victimize you. It does take courage of a very high order to do that. Courage of that nature requires an honest assessment and discussion with law enforcement, the victim and the prosecutor's office so they are fully aware of what a not guilty verdict means, namely not proven. It should also be charged when there is enough evidence to go forward and have a victim re-live the experience. A short jury deliberation usually goes towards a conviction. The jury said it all with their verdict and I hope some folks are listening.

    I pray both of these young people find healing, peace and freedom through forgiveness.














  14. Missoula Mom
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    Missoula Mom - March 01, 2013 11:48 pm
    Respect the verdict...when you lie and get caught in a lie and repeat those lies, people will not beleive you. Kudos to the jury for what must have been a heartwrenching 3 weeks...only 2 1/2 hours...
  15. huckleberryhaven
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    huckleberryhaven - March 01, 2013 10:40 pm
    The accuser needed to start the ball somewhere... and sending that texted she knew would set the ball into motion. And a year later, it failed on her part as it has been proven no crime was commited that night. And how can you explain the statement the accuser made to her mom about "you better be on my side or else ... " (not able to quote but you get the idea). Explain that?
  16. huckleberryhaven
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    huckleberryhaven - March 01, 2013 10:37 pm
    What's pathetic is that you, jack, can't leave it alone and come to gripes that the justice system worked in this case. And it would be in your best interest to go back and read the transcripts from the case to see there were plenty of motives described thru out the case as to why/how the accuser made up the allegations.
  17. huckleberryhaven
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    huckleberryhaven - March 01, 2013 10:34 pm
    Yes, you are correct in the comment "what goes around comes around... " but it should be referred to the woman who falesly accused someone of a very horrible crime. Johnson has and will continue for a very long time to "pay the piper", because this woman was vengeful and spiteful. And yet, the accuser (she is no longer the 'victim') walks away with most of the public not knowing her name, nothing. What does she lose? Compared to what Johnson has to lose. It's more on this woman who will have to live with what she did to Johnson, what her actions did to him and his family.
  18. Bittersweet
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    Bittersweet - March 01, 2013 9:05 pm
    "We are thrilled to announce that Gwen Florio, a veteran reporter with more than 30 years' experience in journalism, will be our featured speaker at this year's YWCA Missoula Annual Meeting." (empowering women) 2/7/13
  19. Yankee
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    Yankee - March 01, 2013 8:01 pm
    In reading actions that occurred according to the newspaper articles, it appears to me that the defendant was positive in his recollection of what transpired and was not rattled by the prosecutions cross examination. You must remember that most defendants don't testify, and the main reason is they are guilty and do not want to add wood to the fire. This defendant took the stand and responded admirably. I congratulate he and his defense team for telling the truth about what happened. Don't forget the victim made statements to friends, watch what happens when I report this rape. It appears to me she waited a long time to report it and was looking for publicity because of whom she was accusing.
  20. Pistol
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    Pistol - March 01, 2013 7:54 pm
    Gets through the ringer? Her name has not even been released to the public. Her prosecution was free of charge thanks to the tax payers. Please! The headline should read Jordan Johnson found not guilty of rapeing {her name}. Heck her own mother on the stand stated the alleged victim lied about the reason she transfered schools. Johnson already paid the piper, now the alleged victim should pay the piper.
  21. allthewhyzer
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    allthewhyzer - March 01, 2013 7:41 pm
    Was he found innocent...or just "not guilty"....enough ???? It will be a matter that follows him for the rest of his life. His judgement may be by the published details that will be a lifelong shadowing. Perhaps this serves as a forewarning to others and hopefully lessons passed all around.
  22. Bandit218
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    Bandit218 - March 01, 2013 7:37 pm
    You don't know if she falsely accused. All we know is he said she said. The jury simply said there isn't enough evidence to be 100% sure. It will be interesting if the defense pursues anything else and whether or not suppressed evidence comes to light. JJ please keep your "high morals" away from my family.
  23. Abonides
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    Abonides - March 01, 2013 7:04 pm
    Excellent example of why women are afraid to file rape charges. The victim gets put through the wringer, publicly humiliated and nothing happens in the end. What goes around comes around and I hope Johnson remembers this when it's time to pay the piper.
  24. whitehairedguy
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    whitehairedguy - March 01, 2013 6:17 pm
    Perhaps it truly was vengeance done exceedingly badly. Give up, the jury didn't agree with your one sided beliefs.
  25. whitehairedguy
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    whitehairedguy - March 01, 2013 6:16 pm
    What a pathetic loser you must be. You state "the problem with the defense's case" and then blather on as if your opinion matters at all. 7 women and 5 men listened to that case and unanimously supported it. Good for them for having open minds
  26. Bitterroot Jim
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    Bitterroot Jim - March 01, 2013 5:26 pm
    I am happy for Jordan. Maybe next time she won't take off her shirt as a form of seduction for the next poor guy! This should have never had even gone to trial. What a sad moment for the taxpayers!!! She is the one who needs counciling... Good grief, what a "tease" she was!!!
  27. Sukey
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    Sukey - March 01, 2013 4:09 pm
    Jordan, congratulations on being found innocent, I'm sure the Jury got it right. And, be careful, your accuser may not be done with you yet, get restraining orders against her. Additionally, this woman falsely accused you (according to the Jury) and used one of those "man hating" shadowy nonprofit groups. I'm sure your accuser received taxpayer funded therapy. Question, when its proven by Jury trial that this person lied, how do taxpayers recover the costs of therapy? In reality, Jordan and his family will need therapy after going through this.
  28. jacksommersby88
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    jacksommersby88 - March 01, 2013 3:45 pm
    One more thing: The chief problem with the defense's case is that they weren't able to come up with a single valid motive for the alleged victim to be making all this up. So what do they desperately come up with in closing arguments? Because Johnson (who had just got through cheating on his girlfriend) didn't "cuddle" with her afterward! Pathetic.
  29. griznationbaby
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    griznationbaby - March 01, 2013 3:41 pm
    "You have enough tools in your toolbox to give [her] the accountability she deserves," said Boylan, urging a guilty verdict." And to claim these are not he-said she:said "tools" is foolish, as this is all based on her testimony alone. Is that not a she-said-based inference? There is not enough concrete evidence to convict JJ. Now I'm not saying he didn't do it, and I'm not saying the alleged victim is lying either, but based on the entire trial's accumulative evidence if the Jury somehow generates a unanimous guilty verdict, then there is somethings seriously fishy going on here...
  30. jacksommersby88
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    jacksommersby88 - March 01, 2013 3:36 pm
    -- Thompson derided the vengeance theory, telling jurors that if revenge were the woman's motivation, she went about it exceedingly badly.

    "She apparently knew that screaming and yelling wouldn't be authentic," he said, "... and she decided apparently that the best way to help her lie was to give him a ride home. What a great thing to do to further her malicious plot." --

    Perfectly put. And texting "I just got raped" rather than "I think I just got raped" would've made a lot more sense, too, if she were making it up. That's what many people following this trial seem to forget -- inconsistent actions don't equate into an inconsistent story. Reality, especially when a young women has just experienced what many feel is the worst thing a woman can experience, rarely results in a one-size-fits-all behavorial-reactions template.
  31. montanamuralist
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    montanamuralist - March 01, 2013 2:38 pm
    Unfortunately, she also said after the fact that he did not know he did anything wrong...so which is it? I kicked him to get him off of me or he didnt know he did anything wrong. Just to close a call even under Montana law..not guilty. Anyone else, this would not have come to trial...
  32. MtExPatriot
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    MtExPatriot - March 01, 2013 2:08 pm
    No compelling physical evidence of rape. Some odd behavior and inconsistencies by the accuser, that could or could not be attributed to the trauma of rape – who knows. The defendant did not say or do anything to undermine his credibility. Seems like there is plenty of doubt for a not guilty verdict.
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