Former University of Montana Quarterback Jordan Johnson Takes the Stand at His Rape Trial in Missoula [AUDIO]
Former University of Montana quarterback Jordan Johnson took the stand Monday, Feb. 25, afternoon after the prosecution wrapped up its case to convince the jury that he was guilty of sexual intercourse without consent.
After nine days of testimony, the prosecution’s final witness was the alleged victim’s father, who told prosecutor Suzy Boylen that his daughter has been subdued and withdrawn at times since the alleged rape on February 4, 2012. On cross-examination, the young woman’s father told defense attorney Kirsten Pabst that he has never asked his daughter about details of the incident, but rather wanted to simply be there to support her. The prosecution rested its case at about 3 p.m.
The defense began by calling a retired registered nurse, Katherine Scholl from Florence. Scholl identified herself as a sexual assault nurse examiner with several years of experience in Florida before retiring to Montana. Scholl told defense attorney Pabst that she heard about the Johnson case while listening to a TV news broadcast. When the commentator mentioned the exam conducted by First Step as ‘evidence,’ she contacted the defense attorneys and offered her expertise.
Scholl was critical of First Step nurse Claire Francouer in many ways. She found fault with the initial exam, including photographs and the internal exam. Additionally, she stated that Francouer’s report did not meet national sexual assault exam protocols. Scholl was highly-critical of Francouer’s relationship with the alleged victim through text messages, saying a sexual assault nurse should remain objective, and not turn into a victim’s advocate.
Prosecutor Adam Deurk challenged Scholl’s credentials, saying she had retired in 2009, and that protocols had changed since that time.
The next witness for the defense was Mike McGowan, the unofficial chaplain of the Grizzly football team. McGowan related to defense attorney Davis Paoli (a former Grizzly football player himself) about his various contacts with Johnson. McGowan said Johnson was “very respectful and unassuming, a young man of integrity.”
Mike McGowan describes Johnson’s character
McGowan was asked, in his experience, about how Johnson interacted with women. McGowan said Johnson was always respectful and polite.
Mike McGowan talks about Johnson’s interactions with women
Johnson finally took the stand in his own defense just after 4 p.m. Pabst walked the soft-spoken young man through his relationship with his family, especially his father, which Johnson described with tears in his eyes, as “special.”
Jordan Johnson Testifies
Johnson described how he came to The University of Montana after coach Robin Pflugrad was named head coach, how he began his studies at the university in pre-pharmacy, and eventually settled on being a math major. His goal was to be a high school math teacher and eventually become a coach, like his father and grandfather.
Pabst led Johnson through his initial relationship with the alleged victim. Johnson met the young woman in his freshman year, when he was a pre-pharmacy student. The two did not meet in school, but instead at the 2011 Foresters’ Ball. They exchanged phone numbers, but Johnson said he was not particularly interested in beginning a relationship. He said the two traded texts, hung out in various settings, such as eating ice cream, and eventually kissed at the ball.
Pabst asked Johnson about another young woman named Kelly, with whom Johnson had developed a relationship. Johnson said he became more romantically interested in Kelly as he got to know her. The two danced and kissed at the 2012 Foresters’ Ball, and Johnson said the alleged victim saw him with Kelly that night.
As for his relationship with the alleged victim, Johnson said he got together with her “five or six times,” in encounters that included kissing. He testified that on one of those occasions he attempted to unbutton the young woman’s pants, but “she said no, so I stopped.” Johnson said the relationship “sort of fizzled out” before the winter break.
When the Grizzly football team advanced to the playoffs in 2011, Johnson said the alleged victim texted him to congratulate him on his performance as quarterback. He texted back a thank you. He also said he texted the woman one time for a ride home from a party after he’d been drinking. When they got to his house she asked for a tour, which he gave them Johnson said that the two did not have any physical contact at all that night.
Not long after, at the 2012 Foresters’ Ball, he saw the alleged victim and the two hugged and danced a few dances, even though he was also dancing with Kelly. Johnson said the alleged victim suggested they go through the mock ‘marriage ceremony’ at the ball, but the two drifted apart with groups of friends before they got to the front of the line. The alleged rape occurred the next night, on February 4, 2012.
The testimony ended at 5 p.m., and will not continue until Wednesday morning.