Former Rocky Heights teacher sentenced in sex case

Victim was 13 when educator began ‘grooming’ her

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Former Rocky Heights Middle School teacher Richard Johnson was sentenced to 20 years in prison followed by 20 years in the state’s Sex Offender Intensive Supervised Probation program for sexually exploiting an eighth-grade student in 2011.

The 32-year-old Centennial man was arrested in November 2012 and charged with 30 felony counts, including 10 each of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and patterned sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, as well as five each of sexual exploitation of a child and enticement of a child.

After initially pleading not guilty, Johnson reached a deal with prosecutors and changed his plea this September, agreeing to two Class 3 felony counts of sexually exploiting a child and avoiding a trial in the process.

“This is the ultimate example of betrayal,” said 18th Judicial District Court Judge Richard Caschette at the Nov. 27 sentencing in Castle Rock. “The community expects and deserves more of its teachers and people in a position of trust than was shown here and finds crimes of this nature against children the most repugnant of crimes.”

The victim, who said she was 13 when Johnson “began grooming” her, addressed the court at the sentencing, as did both of her parents.

Johnson, who sat stone-faced and stared straight ahead throughout the process, refused to speak, but did offer an admission of guilt and a desire to get psychiatric help in a letter that was read by his attorney.

“He robbed me of all stability in my life,” said the now-16-year-old Rock Canyon student, stating that Johnson turned her against all her friends and her family so that he would be the only one she could turn to for emotional support.

Once everyone else was gone from her life, she said the relationship quickly turned from an emotional one to one of “constant sex and constant obsessiveness,” and that the former teacher “had to always know where I was, who I was with and what I was doing. All the emotion was gone. The driving force was sex.”

“I want him to know I am taking back all that he took from me,” she said. “I want him to know I am disgusted by his actions. I am stronger now than ever before and he needs to know that I fell in love with the man he pretended to be, not the sick man he truly is. ... I’m not Rick’s victim anymore, though. Today I become a survivor.”