KALAMAZOO, MI – Justice has finally been served in a 2013 sexual assault of a minor through the work of the Kalamazoo County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) team, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting announced today.
Roosevelt Johnson, 64-years-old, of Memphis, Tennessee, and formerly of Kalamazoo, was sentenced on Monday to serve up to 35 years in prison by Judge Pamela Lightvoet in Kalamazoo County 9th Circuit Court. Johnson pleaded no contest Dec. 18 to first-degree criminal sexual conduct as a habitual offender, fourth offense.
The crime, which had not been reported, was discovered in 2016 through the SAKI program as it allowed for the testing of the victim’s kit. The kit was previously untested because it was believed that the only evidence inside it was that of the victim engaging in consensual sex with another minor. Once the kit was tested, it revealed two DNA profiles – the other minor and a match for Johnson, who has a history of domestic violence.
“The lengthy prison sentence in this case is entirely appropriate given the facts,” Nessel said. “Our communities must be protected against those who commit sexual assaults against children and other vulnerable victims. I appreciate the hard work put into resolving this case by the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office and the SAKI team and their commitment to pursuing justice on behalf of sexual assault victims.”
“Mr. Johnson’s rape of this young victim, who was barely a teenager at the time, is deserving of every day of the sentence that he received. His incarceration is a fitting punishment and is one that will protect other young girls and women from him,” Getting said. “I am very proud of the work being done by Erin House and the Kalamazoo SAKI team. The partnership between the Kalamazoo Prosecutor’s Office and the Attorney General has brought justice to sexual assault victims in this, and in other cases, that otherwise would not have happened.”
The Kalamazoo SAKI project, established in 2017, is funded by the Michigan Legislature and involves a partnership between the Michigan Department of Attorney General, the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office and the YWCA of Kalamazoo. The goal of this program is to address previously untested sexual assault kits and, when possible, provide resolutions for victims.
“Too often sexual abuse of children goes unreported because children are afraid that no one will believe them. This victim’s family began to recognize signs that something was wrong with this child almost immediately after the rape, but the truth of the trauma of what had occurred did not come out until the SAKI team became involved,” said Erin House, special assistant attorney general who leads the Kalamazoo SAKI team. “This case serves as a difficult reminder of the prevalence of child sexual abuse in our community and the need for education and support for children and families so these kinds of “secrets” can be brought to light more quickly.”
The Michigan Legislature funded the testing of all 3,600 untested rape kits across the state in 2013. In 2016, funding was expanded to include financial support for the investigation and prosecution of these cases. The program has expanded over the years to also include six counties, with State funding for both the Washtenaw and Wayne counties sites being authorized in fiscal year 2020. Other counties include Calhoun, Ingham and Jackson.