HUDSON — A high school sports official in Minnesota and Wisconsin will be arraigned next month in St. Croix County on allegations that he drove to Wisconsin for sex with a child.
St. Croix County prosecutors charged 68-year-old Woodbury resident James Louis Johnson with second-degree attempted sexual assault of a child, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and child enticement.
Johnson told investigators he was a longtime official for college sports as well as a retired teacher and school counselor.
Division-III officials with the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference said Johnson was not an official with their programs.
Messages left for the Division-I Big 10 conference were not returned.
An official with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association said Johnson was licensed to officiate high school games there for softball, baseball, basketball and football for the 2019-20 school year. That official said he was eligible to officiate in Wisconsin through a Minnesota State High School League reciprocity agreement. Messages left with the Minnesota State High School League were not returned.
Johnson appeared in court Thursday, Feb. 6, for a preliminary hearing where St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Edward Vlack found probable cause to move the case into trial phase. Arraignment was set for March 10.
Johnson posted $10,000 cash bond, the terms of which require another adult to be present anytime he’s in the company of a juvenile.
According to a criminal complaint:
A St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office deputy launched an Internet Crimes Against Children investigation by posting a message to a popular hookup site. The profile first listed the deputy’s online persona as an 18-year-old. After being contacted by an account registered to Johnson, the online persona told Johnson he was a 15-year-old boy.
Johnson responded with graphic descriptions of his plans for sex with the boy and arranged a time for the two of them to meet.
Johnson drove to a house on Carmichael Road for the meeting. At one point after learning of a vehicle parked in the driveway, Johnson asked, “Does that mean your mom is home?” He later told officers he didn’t remember asking about that.
Deputies were waiting for him when he arrived and arrested him without a struggle.
Officers confiscated a phone in Johnson’s car that, when opened, displayed the email conversation he was having with the juvenile persona.
In an interview with deputies, Johnson said he expected to meet a 51-year-old man there.
“James said if he was talking to a 15-year-old, he ‘missed the boat,’” the complaint states.
Johnson told the officers he didn’t expect to act on the plans, which he said developed when “he was sitting home alone and it was just a strange opportunity and he didn’t know why he did this,” the complaint states.
Johnson told deputies he officiated college football for 28 years. He said he currently officiates basketball, baseball, softball and football. He officiated in Minnesota and Wisconsin, he told the officers.
He went on to tell the officers he retired after working as a teacher and counselor for 39 years, 17 of which were spent in the Wisconsin school system. He said he worked in Viola and at Unity High School.