Wis. Supreme Court weighs in on Curtis Johnson sex assault case

Alleged victim may withhold records, still testify

BY JANINE ANDERSON
janderson@kenoshanews.com

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The girl Curtis Johnson is accused of sexually abusing can testify against him, even though she has refused to release her medical records, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Johnson, 58, of Wind Point, an heir to Racine’s Johnson family fortune, could serve time in prison if convicted of the several sexual assault charges against him.

The charges were filed in March 2011, after an Arizona therapist contacted law enforcement saying Johnson told her about abusing a 15-year-old girl during therapy sessions. The girl has since moved out of state with her mother.

As the Racine County Circuit Court case proceeded, the defense asked that the victim’s medical records be reviewed by the judge, to determine if any information in them should be released for use in the case. The girl refused to release them, citing confidentiality. She and Johnson argued that without release of the records, the girl should be barred from testifying.

Judge Gene Gasiorkiewicz ruled the girl could keep her medical records private, and that she could testify, but the jury would be told that she had been ordered to release the records, refused them, and that a presumption exists that the contents of the records would help the defense.

Both sides appealed. The Court of Appeals said if the girl refused to turn over the records, she should not be allowed to take the stand.

The state then appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In a majority ruling, justices said the girl could withhold her medical records, but that she should still be allowed to testify.

The justices did not agree on the reasons behind the decision. However, they together ruled the Circuit Court may not require the girl to turn over her mental health records for review, and, despite keeping the records private, she may still testify.

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