Windsor

Former Spitfire Ben Johnson sentenced to 3 years in prison

Former Windsor Spitfire Ben Johnson has been sentenced to 3 years in prison for a sexual assault convicted.
Former Windsor Spitfire Ben Johnson is shown in this file photo as he leaves Ontario Superior Court. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Former Windsor Spitfire Ben Johnson has been sentenced to three years in prison for a sexual assault conviction.

Johnson will be listed with the sex offender registry for 20 years. He is also prohibited from owning or possessing weapons and ammunition for 10 years. Johnson was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of $200.

Johnson's lawyer Patrick Ducharme said an appeal of the conviction will most likely be filed on Wednesday. There is also a possibility the sentence will be appealed.

Ducharme said Johnson could get full parole after serving two-thirds of his sentence, which is typical in Canada. As well, he said Johnson being on the sex registry is not very meaningful, as the registry is in Canada and Johnson will be living in the U.S.

Court proceedings began with Judge Kirk Munroe going through the 11 days of the trial. He said the victim struggled to function. Munroe then read some of the victim impact statements from court proceedings on Monday.

"My family was ripped apart," Munore said as he read from a victim impact statement.

The defence challenged some of what was said by the family in the statement, but Munroe said what was in that statement was appropriate.

Munroe said he was impressed by the more than 100 character letters by friends and family for Johnson.

"I don't find Mr. Johnson is a bad person," Munroe said. 

Munroe said he was most moved by the letter from Johnson's father and hometown friend.

The Crown asked that Johnson be jailed for three and a half to four years. The maximum is 10 years.

Johnson is now 22 years old, recently married with no kids. He comes from a large family and raised with a strong religious background in upper Michigan, Munroe said.

He added Johnson is a hard worker and will have little trouble reintegrating into the community.

The defence asked the judge to consider the loss of the NHL contract as he mitigated the sentence. Munroe accepted that, but rejected their consideration for the civil suit.

The offence had and continues to have impact on the victim and her family, Munroe said. 

"This sir is a very serious offence," Munroe said, adding that the sentence must be sufficient in severity.

"I pray for your peace," Munroe said. "I also pray for the Johnson family.".

Johnson was taken away by police with very little emotion. He did not look at anyone in the audience before leaving the courtroom.

Johnson was found guilty in September of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a downtown nightclub in 2013.

Five victim impact statements were submitted to the court, with four read aloud. The judge also received a bound book of character references for Johnson.

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