A Juneau man was ordered last week to serve 75 days in jail and three years probation and to complete a domestic violence program for placing spyware on his ex-girlfriend’s computer and intercepting her private emails and pictures, including nude photographs.
Originally facing a felony charge for “criminal use of a computer,” Timothy R. Johnson, 27, pleaded guilty Thursday to the reduced misdemeanor charge of “attempted” criminal use of a computer. He also pleaded guilty to two other misdemeanors for viewing the photographs without her knowledge or consent and for having contacting with her after he had been released from custody as the case was pending in court.
Johnson admitted to placing a keylogger on the woman’s computer, which silently monitors and records key strokes pressed on a keyboard unbeknownst to the computer user. He told police he wanted to see if she was cheating on him, he told police, according to the affidavit.
The woman, however, maintains that they had broken up three months earlier, he had already moved out and she had her house locks changed at that point. She discovered the device on her computer and reported it police in October, stating she suspected Johnson since he kept confronting her with information she never shared with him.
During Thursday’s hearing in Juneau Superior Court, Judge Louis Menendez accepted a plea agreement that called for Johnson to complete the Juneau Choice and Accountability Program, a state-approved domestic violence intervention program run by the Aiding Women In Abuse and Rape Emergencies (AWARE) shelter in Juneau.
“It’s intensive, it addresses the range of conduct that can constitute domestic violence,” Assistant District Attorney Williams said. “Everything from emotional abuse, to this kind of jealousy issues, control issues, all the way to actual acts of violence, which fortunately this case did not have any component of.”
Williams said she contacted AWARE to see if the JCAP program would be appropriate for Johnson, especially since there was no physical violence involved.
“They said ‘absolutely’ because the broad spectrum of domestic relations encompasses this kind of conduct, and their program is designed to address the entire spectrum,” Williams told the judge.
The victim in the case could not attend the hearing because she could not take off work, but Williams said the plea deal was fashioned with her in mind. The victim has told prosecutors from the start that she does not want Johnson to serve a lengthy jail sentence, but “to help him deal with the issues that underlie the behavior in this case,” Williams said.
“I agree with her, frankly,” Williams said, noting that Johnson does not have a criminal history. “... With this kind of resolution, it saves him from having a felony on his record, although he’s getting three misdemeanors in one shot, which is a significant amount of convictions for someone who previously had none, and he’s going to do 75 days in jail, which for someone who has never done a single day, it’s more than you would typically see.”
Defense attorney Julie Willoughby said her client and the woman, who was not named in court papers or open court, were involved in what can only be described as a “tumultuous relationship.”
“He is embracing the JCAP program,” Willoughby said. “He understands, and has understood for quite a while, that this relationship, the type of dynamics in this relationship, are unhealthy, and they’re not good, and they’re not mature, and he’s excited about going to a program that hopefully will help him learn how to have a better relationship.”
Willoughby said her client grasps the gravity of the charges against him in this case, and while he’s made “some mistakes,” he wants to move forward with his life.
When given the chance to speak to the court, Johnson told the judge, “I apologize for any wrongdoing that I’ve done.”
Menendez told Johnson he hopes the sentence will deter him from similar conduct in the future, and that he can learn relationship skills through the JCAP program. If he can’t, Menendez said he fears that Johnson may end up in court again.
“You may want to take a long, hard look at who you are as an individual and what your next steps will be in the future.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.