Minnesota man pleads not guilty to four sexual assault felonies with children under age 13

L. Johnson copy

Leonard Johnson | Photo courtesy of Adams County Jail

QUINCY — A gymnastics coach from West Virginia pled not guilty Tuesday morning to four charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under the age of 13 in Adams County.

Leonard Johnson, 63, of Rochester, Minn., was arraigned in Adams County Circuit Court by Judge Amy Lannerd. He appeared with his attorney, Drew Schnack. Johnson has been lodged in the Adams County Jail on July 11. His bond has been set at $750,000.

The case was placed on the Nov. 7 jury docket. Johnson’s next appearance in court will be for a status review on Oct. 11.

An Adams County grand jury indicted Johnson on Wednesday, Aug. 3. The grand jury determined Johnson had placed his penis in the mouth of a child under the age of 13 and touched his sex organ to the hands of two children under the age of 13 for the purpose of sexual gratification on May 19, 2020.

Johnson faces four charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, a Class X felony. The sentencing range is between six and 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

The grand jury also determined Johnson touched the unclothed back of a child under the age of 13 for sexual gratification, and he engaged in sexual penetration with another child in the presence of a child under the age of 13. Johnson is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony punishable for between three and seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, and sexual exploitation of a child, a Class 4 felony punishable for between one and three years in the DOC.

Johnson had been charged in Marion County (Mo.) with statutory sodomy in the first degree with a person under 12 years of age, as well as child molestation in the second degree. The parents of two alleged victims approached Hannibal police on May 29, 2020, to report Johnson for molestation. Potential offenses allegedly happened between March 2020 and May 2020.

Johnson was taken into custody in Fairlea, W. Va., on Nov. 11, 2020, by officers with the Greenbrier County Sheriff’s Office and the West Virginia State Police after receiving a warrant from Missouri. Johnson was working for Southern Elite Gymnastics in Lewisburg, W. Va., at the time of his arrest.

He was arraigned in March 2021 in Marion County. The case was moved to Monroe County in April 2021 on a change of venue request. It was dismissed last month. Johnson waived extradition and immediately was brought to Adams County.

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