Man sentenced to prison after pleading guilty in 2013 Kalamazoo County sexual assault cases

Kalamazoo County sexual assault survivors see justice a decade later

FILE - A generic still image of a gavel. A 30-year-old Wyoming man was sentenced to prison in Michigan after pleading guilty to assaulting two teenagers in two separate incidents that occurred in Kalamazoo County a decade ago.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A 30-year-old Wyoming man was sentenced to prison in Michigan after pleading guilty to assaulting two teenagers in two separate incidents that occurred in Kalamazoo County a decade ago.

Michael Vincenzo Johnson, of Casper, Wyoming, was on probation when he was arrested and extradited to Michigan to face charges in two sexual assault cases dating back to 2013.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for the assaults of two Kalamazoo County teens while he was a student at Western Michigan University.

On March 20, 2023, he was sentenced to six to 15 years in prison. His earliest release date is May 15, 2028.

Sexual assault on WMU campus

Prosecutors said Johnson sexually assaulted an 18-year-old freshman in a university dorm room on Jan. 19, 2013.

The 18-year-old was “physically helpless and in a state of extreme intoxication,” according to prosecutors. Johnson was a 20-year-old student at the time.

16-year-old reports sexual assault to police

Johnson sexually assaulted a 16-year-old high school girl in a home in Augusta, Michigan, in February 2013.

The girl reported the assault to the Augusta Police Department and underwent a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exam. Johnson and the girl were both interviewed by police.

Prosecutors said no police report was ever generated.

Case reopened in 2020

The Western Michigan University Police Department referred the case to the Kalamazoo Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) project in 2017. SAKI was established in 2017. The program helps investigate and prosecute cold case sexual assaults.

SAKI reopened the Western Michigan University sexual assault case in June 2020. Investigators became aware of the 2013 report from the 16-year-old girl while investigating the WMU case.

“The courage of these victims was essential in order to pursue this case. We look forward to continuing our ongoing work with Kalamazoo SAKI in bringing the perpetrators of sexual assault to justice,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Johnson arrested in 2016 in Wyoming

Johnson moved to Wyoming in January 2016 to become a sportswriter for a newspaper.

After arriving in Wyoming, he began pursuing sexual relationships with high school girls. He was arrested in April 2016 on charges of accosting minors, manufacturing child pornography and providing marijuana to minors.

He pleaded down to lesser charges and was sentenced in January 2017 to three and a half years in prison for possession of marijuana and sexual exploitation of children.

He was arrested on the Michigan charges after he was paroled in Wyoming.

Johnson pleads guilty in Michigan

In May 2022, Johnson was extradited to Kalamazoo, Michigan, to face charges in the two sexual assault cases. He pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

“He had already moved to another state to continue his pattern of assaulting young women and girls. I’m grateful for the hard work of the Kalamazoo SAKI investigators and participating law enforcement agencies in Michigan and Wyoming for their help in taking a sexual predator off the streets,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Survivor says process has helped her heal

The survivors said the way their cases were handled by the criminal justice system in 2013 made them feel that they were not believed or valued and that what happened to them didn’t matter.

The survivors made Victim Impact Statements in court, parts of those statements are available below:

“My freshman year of university, I was raped by a friend of a friend. Someone who made me feel bad for them and then took advantage of me when I could not say no, when I could not fight back, when I was vulnerable. He made me a victim, he made me a statistic, he made me hate myself and others around me. My stomach turns and my body is filled with anxiety and disgust when I think about this assault on me. And I, unfortunately, think about it daily, still, almost a decade later. He took innocence and made victims; he took dreams and created nightmares; he took trust and made hypervigilance. It haunts me forever. And I would give anything to not remember.”

Survivor's victim impact statement

“Today is the day I have waited ten years for. A decade -- 3,685 days. Today, you see a 26-year-old woman standing in front of you, deep inside is a 16-year-old child, ravenous to come out of the cage she’s been hiding in. In 2013, I was a junior in high school and I was raped in my own home. The next morning, I told my mother what had happened.”

“Think about how it would feel to speak out about your assault and then you’re not taken seriously, you’re forgotten about . . . this whole process has now helped me re-open a wound that was scarred and allowed me to heal it the right way. I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor. The impact doesn’t go away, you learn to live with it . . . now I can open a new chapter in my life.”

Second survivor's victim impact statement

At the sentencing, the judge said this case has made accountability happen.

“This 10-year delay has given us insight into how victims are affected even 10 years later. And how offenders are affected when they are not held accountable because [Johnson] went on to commit other offenses in [the state of] Wyoming. Ten years after this event and they are still suffering,” the judge said.

The judge spoke directly to Johnson and said, “today, accountability is happening. You are going to account for your crimes. It is ‘the long arm of the law’ as they say.” 

More information about the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative is available online, click here.

About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.