Man gets 10 years for raping Lummi woman in presence of her children

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 12, 2013 

LUMMI RESERVATION - A Lummi man must serve 10 years in federal prison for raping a woman in his trailer while her young children in the other room overheard her screams.

Robert Dewey Johnson, 48, had been drinking heavily with the woman, her longtime boyfriend and two male relatives at his trailer on Lummi Shore Road on Dec. 3. The boyfriend and another man left to get more beer at 10 p.m. A third man passed out, drunk, in the living room, according to charges filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

In the half-hour that the two men were gone, Johnson forced the woman into his room. Two of her sons, both younger than 13, were sleepily watching a movie when they heard their mother yelling and crying in the bedroom. Their father came home to find Johnson and his girlfriend on the bed, wearing only shirts.

"He raped me," she said, in tears.

After a sexual assault exam at St. Joseph hospital, investigators documented scratches to the woman's face and back. She had bruising on her chest and a concussion. By the next afternoon, Johnson was in Whatcom County Jail, facing tribal charges.

Months later federal prosecutors formally took over the case. A bloodstain on the woman's underwear matched Johnson's DNA profile, according to a crime lab analysis.

Johnson pleaded guilty in July to aggravated sexual abuse.

In a handwritten letter to the judge before his sentencing, Johnson apologized to the woman and blamed the crime on his drinking.

"Everything that has happened feels like a living nightmare," Johnson wrote. "As hard as it is for me to believe what (happened), and to live with what I did, I'm sure that the crime that I committed against (the woman) has effected (sic) her ... 100 times worse than what I'm going through."

Johnson, a single father who raised three children, worked as a commercial fisherman and a forklift driver. His public defender, Peter J. Avenia, asked for a sentence of six years in prison because Johnson "pled quickly, accepted responsibility, and spared family members the pain of a public trial." He had one prior felony, for second-degree assault in 1987.

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, a federal judge sentenced Johnson to 10 years in a medium-security prison in Tucson, Ariz.

"I wish I could look at all those that have been effected and say I'm sorry. But I honestly believe that nobody wants to hear that I got to say, or even look at me," Johnson wrote. "I did this to me."

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Dispatcher Blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamcrime.

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