The trial of a man charged with sexually assaulting a girl beginning when she was 8 opened Tuesday in Carson District Court.
James Johnson faces seven counts of lewdness and sexual assault from the time the girl was 8 until she was 15.
Deputy District Attorney Iris Yowell told jurors the violations began with him rubbing lotion on her legs and back but quickly progressed to the point where he was touching her genitals and eventually performing oral sex on her.
The girl, now 17, testified calmly throughout the hearing, occasionally wiping away tears. She explained that, at first, “it wasn’t weird.” But she said then “he would start touching me with his fingers.
“It ‘kind of escalated from there,” she testified. “At first I kind of thought it was natural, but after a couple of years, I knew what was going on and it wasn’t right.”
She said Johnson would frequently catch her after she got out of the shower following school, when no one else was around the house.
She said that later, in a different house, Johnson would sometimes approach her in the early morning when everyone else was asleep. She said his advances happened repeatedly until her freshman year in high school.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Mark Krueger, she said she never told her mother, who she said really loved Johnson and because the family “was doing better.”
Finally, she told a friend at school.
“I begged her not to tell anyone,” she told the court. “I knew things would change.”
She said the family was finally doing better, and “I didn’t want to ruin it.”
She also testified that Johnson told her early on that she could never tell anyone what was going on because if she did, “something bad would happen.” But she denied being threatened.
Later, she told another girlfriend, who told her own father the story. He called sheriff’s deputies.
According to testimony, it wasn’t until her mother was called to the Carson City Sheriff’s Office by detectives that she found out.
The teen testified he was careful not to do anything while anyone else was at home.
All of the charges against Johnson are Category A felonies, the most serious the state has, and carry maximum sentences of life in prison.
The trial is set to resume this morning before District Judge Todd Russell.