Ark. Suspect Accused of Molestation
Mar. 31, 1998
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ The older of two boys held in the Arkansas schoolyard ambush is accused of molesting a little girl while he visited Minnesota last summer, according to an aunt and a former neighbor.
``It happened,'' Mitchell Johnson's aunt, Linda Koelsch of Spring Valley, told the Saint Paul Pioneer Press. ``He did it.''
Mitchell, 13, was charged with inappropriately touching the girl, who was 2 or 3 at the time, according to a source close to the investigation. The boy has appeared in court twice and a juvenile trial is pending, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
NBC News reported that the trial is set for June. The network also reported that Mitchell was under psychiatric counseling as recently as last fall.
Records of the case have not been made public because he is a juvenile.
Bill Howard, Mitchell's attorney in Jonesboro, Ark., could not be reached for comment. Messages left by The Associated Press at his home and office Monday and today were not returned.
Mitchell also told a friend and the friend's mother that he had to go to court over the matter.
``He said he was being accused of sexually molesting her,'' said Cathy O'Rourke, who lived in the same southern Minnesota trailer park as Mitchell until he moved to Arkansas with his mother.
Mitchell's parents divorced in 1994. Mitchell spent summers with his father, Scott Johnson, in Grand Meadow, about 95 miles south of Minneapolis.
Mitchell and Andrew Golden, 11, are being held on five counts each of murder and 10 counts of battery. Police say the two ambushed classmates and staff members who had left the school in Jonesboro last week after the boys triggered a fire alarm.
Ms. O'Rourke said Mitchell described the Minnesota incident to her and her son Andrew as a ``big misunderstanding'' and that he was only helping the toddler pull up her pants in the bathroom.
``He said the cops had gotten called and it got way blown out of proportion and he was going to have to go to court,'' she said.
According to a sheriff's June 14 report from the Austin-Mower County Law Enforcement Center, the boy whom sources identify as Mitchell admitted taking his pants down and the girl's pants down in a bedroom and touching her sexually.
Ms. O'Rourke said the girl is related to Scott Johnson's live-in girlfriend but she didn't know what the relationship was. The girl and her mother moved out of the trailer park about two weeks after the incident.
KAAL-TV in Austin linked Mitchell to the police report Friday.
People who knew Mitchell before the shootings have alternatively described him as a choirboy and as a bully who was despondent and angry when grade-school sweethearts moved on.