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Attorney offers defense of student accused of rape
By Eric Peterson | Daily Herald Staff

Bruce Arthur Johnston

 

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Published: 5/2/2009 12:01 AM

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The attorney for the Barrington High School student charged with sexual assaulting two fellow students acknowledged his client might have been intimate with both girls.

But he said the teen didn't force himself on either girl, and isn't guilty of sexual assault, even though one of the girls is a minor.

The accused student, Bruce Arthur Johnston, 18, of the 800 block of Roberts Road in Tower Lakes, remains in McHenry County Jail on a $150,000 bond.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has put a hold on his bond because, although he's a legal U.S. resident, he's not a citizen, attorney Robert Hanaford said.

Johnston is charged with assaulting two girls, one 17 and one 14, at his mother's Barrington Hills house.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs asserts Johnston forced himself on the older girl. The younger girl could not legally consent because of her age.

Hanaford said the events leading to the arrest began April 24 when Johnston went to the Barrington Hills home of the older girl to ask her to prom. The girl accepted and, later that night, went with a female friend to visit Johnston at Johnston's mother house, also in Barrington Hills.

According to an account Hanaford said the friend later provided, it was there that Johnston and the girl had sex, and the girl told her friend a short time later she was concerned she might be pregnant.

It was later that night, after visiting an ex-boyfriend and then going to a restaurant to eat pancakes, when the girl first told her friend that Johnston pressured her to have sex, his lawyer said.

Later that day, the girl went to the hospital and then met with police, who began investigating the alleged assault.

When police went to Johnston's mother's house the evening of April 25, he was there with the 14-year-old, whom he'd apparently been seeing for some time, Hanaford said.

He admitted the exact nature of Johnston's relationship with the younger girl was unclear even to him, and that it's possible Johnston did indeed have sex with the girl.

But while acknowledging that would be illegal, Hanaford argues that a lesser charge for a consensual sexual encounter would have been more appropriate. He would not say what that charge might be.

Combs declined to comment on the details of the case against Johnston, whose next court date is Tuesday, May 5.

The felony charges could yield a four- to 15-year sentence, Combs said. If convicted of both counts, prosecutors would seek concurrent sentences, he said.

Johnston remains suspended from Barrington High pending the outcome of the criminal case against him.