Curt Johnson, heir to the SC Johnson Wax fortune, waived his right to a preliminary hearing and pleaded not guilty to a sexual assault charge in Racine County Felony Court today.
He also requested a jury trial. The pre-trial is expected to happen May 20.
Johnson was formally charged on March 24, with repeated sexual assault of a child. A judge released him on a $500,000 cash bond and Johnson was ordered to have no contact with the child or any other minor female child. He was also ordered to surender his passport.
At the preliminary hearing, Johnson spoke in a clear, strong voice and was matter-of-fact in his responses to Felony Court Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz. Johnson said he understood the charges filed against him. Mark Richards, Johnson's attorney, entered a not guilty plea, which Johnson confirmed was what he wanted when Gasiorkiewicz asked him. Richards confirmed that Johnson's passport had been surrendered as a condition of his bond.
Discussion ensued between the defense and prosecution attorneys about the pre-trial hearing, which is set for May 20. And the whole matter lasted about 10 minutes.
Once the hearing was concluded, Richards ushered Johnson out of the courtroom. When asked for a comment, Richards shook his head, waived his hand in the air, and quickened his pace to catch up with Johnson.
Johnson, who lives in Caledonia, is the billionaire son of the late Sam Johnson and is the former head of Sturtevant-based Diversey, Inc. Earlier this year, he took a leave of absence for "personal reasons." Since then, his sister, Helen Johnson-Leopold, has taken the reins of the company. His brother, Fisk Johnson, is head of SC Johnson.
In the criminal complaint, it is alleged that Johnson touched the victim on multiple occasions, exposed himself and asked the girl to have sex with him. The victim refused and also stated that she could not remember the age she was when the abuse began.
Johnson faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.