Trial date set for ex-Green Forest inspector Johnson, accused of Internet stalking of a child
VAN BUREN, ARK. -- James Eugene Johnson, a former Green Forest city official accused of internet stalking of a child, will appear before a jury next month if he does not reach a plea agreement with prosecutors before then.
Judge Mike Medlock has set a trial date of 9 a.m. on Mar. 14, in the Circuit Courthouse in Van Buren. The deadline for Johnson to enter a plea is 9 a.m. on Mar. 8.
Johnson, formerly the city building inspector, was arrested in Van Buren in September, after he allegedly engaged in a sexually charged online chat with an undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl.
He was released two days later after posting his $6,000 bond.
Johnson had been nearby in Fort Smith for a work-related training seminar on Sept. 16, when he allegedly used his city-issued laptop to visit a Yahoo chat room and met Van Buren Police Sgt. Daniel Perry, posing as "Talisha."
The transcript of the two's conversation, provided by prosecutors, shows that the two chatted for a total of an hour and a half before Johnson agreed to meet for sex at a storefront in Van Buren.
He arrived in his city-issued, white Dodge Dakota and was promptly arrested.
According to police reports, Johnson admitted to believing he was chatting with a 14-year-old girl. He also admitted to talking about having oral sex together and to exposing himself for an extended length of time on his webcam with the understanding that a minor was watching.
Johnson was placed on leave after his arrest and submitted his resignation letter the following week. Though Johnson worked for the city of Green Forest, he lived in Berryville and volunteered with the fire department there. He was suspended from the department after his arrest.
Johnson's attorney, Chris Flanigan of Eureka Springs, did not return a request for comment by deadline late Thursday.