Former teacher changes plea in sex assault

Ex-Rock Canyon coach agrees to 20-year term

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A former Highlands Ranch middle school teacher and high school coach, charged last November in an alleged sexual assault of a former female student, has pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation, agreeing to serve 20 years in prison.

Richard Johnson, 32, of Centennial, left the Douglas County School District in March 2012 after serving as both an eighth-grade teacher at Rocky Heights Middle School and as a basketball coach at Rock Canyon High School.

According to Rock Canyon Principal Andy Abner, Johnson left the district for personal reasons unrelated to the allegations.

Johnson was arrested and charged in November with 30 felony counts, including 10 counts 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 counts each of sexual exploitation of a child and enticement of a child.

According to Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo, who was prosecuting the case for the 18th Judicial District, all of the charges involved one victim.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to all counts in June, but reached a plea agreement with the district attorney’s office prior to a motions hearing that had been scheduled for Sept. 27. As part of the agreement, Johnson also agreed to 20 years in the state’s Sex Offender Intensive Supervised Probation program after he is released from prison.

Johnson will be officially sentenced Nov. 27 in Castle Rock.