Pa. man charged in rape in city

The Baltimore Sun

The president of a York County township's board of commissioners - a former police officer and Army veteran - was arrested after a two-hour standoff at his home Monday and charged with raping a woman in Baltimore last month, police said.

Michael L. Johnson Jr., 40, of Hanover in southwestern York County, Pa., is accused of posing as a police officer and picking up a 21-year-old woman in the Baltimore Highlands area of southeast Baltimore on Nov. 2.

He allegedly told her he was arresting her for prostitution as part of a sting operation and handcuffed her to the back seat of his minivan, which had its windows covered with sheets. Police allege in charging documents that he then drove her to an industrial area in the rear of the 4400 block of E. Monument St. and offered to let her go if she had sex with him.

"She said that she thought he was a police officer, so she complied with his demands," said Agent Donny Moses, a spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department.

Police said that after the assault, Johnson drove the woman around, offering to pay her and provide her help in her personal life, then pushed her out of the vehicle behind Sherrie's Show Bar and Lounge, a strip club in the 3700 block of Pulaski Highway.

The victim, who told police that she had been buying heroin when Johnson picked her up, gave investigators a license plate number and a description of the silver van, including a sticker on the back windshield that read "Fort Benning." She later identified him in a photo lineup, according to records.

A law enforcement source said the van did not belong to Johnson but had been lent to him by a family friend.

Members of Baltimore's Warrant Apprehension Task Force, along with Pennsylvania State Police, arrested Johnson at his home in Hanover, Pa., after a two-hour standoff, Moses said. He was taken to the York County jail, where he was being held on $100,000 bond on a fugitive warrant pending a hearing on his extradition to Baltimore on charges of first-degree rape, sexual assault, kidnapping and false imprisonment.

Johnson, a Republican, finished last among four candidates against in an effort to unseat Rep. Todd R. Platts in 2002. He was described in news reports as a former champion kick boxer and Army infantryman. He worked for the York Police Department for four years and was a small-business owner. He and his wife have two children.

He retired from the York Police Department in 1999 after his wrist was slashed during an arrest, according to a report in the Hanover Evening Sun. He was on disability and unable to use his right arm for almost two years but in 2002 told the newspaper that he had recovered and was looking to get back into police work.

Johnson was elected to the board of commissioners in Penn Township, a community of about 15,000 people, in 2000. In January, he became president of the board, and he also chairs the Public Safety Committee. As township commissioner, Johnson's duties include overseeing the local police department.

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