The Summer of '95

A teenage girl tells police Kevin Johnson won her confidence, then took advantage of her. While her allegations are open to question, there are many questions about KJ's behavior.

Despite this, she says she's an excellent student who wants to pursue a career in medicine, and plans to attend an out-of-state university next fall.

In his demand letter, Kim's attorney claims Johnson was "grooming" a potential victim almost from the start. His nickname for her was "Whiskey," and, Kim told police, Johnson would leave messages saying he "needed a shot of Whiskey . . . referring to me, not the drink."

Johnson's attorneys tell New Times he was just being KJ--guileless and caring, with Kim's welfare his sole concern.

The pair met in March 1995, during a videotaping session arranged by the City of Phoenix. The video's theme was to remind teens about the horrors of handgun violence.

Johnson was the project's celebrity star and, as usual, he welcomed the opportunity to meet youngsters. He and Kim met and chatted.

On May 29, 1995, the day before Kim's 16th birthday, she and a group of friends went to Coffee Plantation in Biltmore Fashion Park.

Johnson was also there. He recognized Kim from the video shoot, she says, and invited her and her friends to his table. The friends told Johnson of Kim's imminent birthday, and he responded by handing her a business card and telling her to call.

Kim says she called and that a woman who answered asked for her address and phone number. Kim soon received a bouquet of flowers at her home, with birthday greetings signed by Johnson.

Within days, Kim says, Johnson introduced himself to her mother. Mrs. Adams told police last July that Johnson told her Kim was teeming with potential. He described his youth programs, and assured her Kim would be in safe hands with him.

Mrs. Adams told police that later that summer, when Kim and Johnson began spending large amounts of time together, she told her daughter that Johnson could be her friend, not her boyfriend.

Mrs. Adams also admitted she didn't know where her daughter was much of that summer, and that Kim never had confided any improprieties on Johnson's part.

According to Kim, she and Johnson began to see each other almost daily as the summer of '95 wore on. They would eat dinner together, go to movies--sometimes with other young people, sometimes alone--and work out at the Q health club.

Attorney Fred Hiestand says the girl is exaggerating the amount of time the pair spent together.

Detective Art Smith asked Kim to characterize the relationship during an August 28, 1996, interview.

"Were you dating?" Smith asked.
"I wasn't dating him. I didn't think of it as dating."
"But were you going out with him and things?"
"Like going to dinner and to movies?"
"Yeah. Would you consider that dating in a sense?"
"If he was my age. I didn't think of it as dating."

Johnson bought Kim many presents, including bookstore gift certificates, a flute, a Swiss Army knife with his jersey number, "7," engraved on it. He also introduced her to great works of literature, including 100 Years of Solitude and I, Claudius.

He sent her numerous cards and notes. They swapped e-mail messages. By Kim's account, she and Johnson spent hours together at the Q, working out, swimming, sitting in the Jacuzzi, talking about life. Kim's mother told police that Johnson called her daughter almost every day during the summer of '95.

"We did a lot of talking about school and my friends," Kim later told police, "'cuz I was going through a hard time with my friends. And he was really building me up to feel really special. . . . My father hasn't been in my life and I don't have any male figure. Just somebody outside of my family took interest in me and he told me how special I was and how I could do so many great things, and it was really encouraging." Kim says Johnson told her he wished she was 30 years old, and that Johnson also fantasized that he was nearer her age.

The subject of premarital sex also arose.
"I was against it before marriage, and he was, too," Kim recalled in her interview with police.

That comports with Johnson's public stance on the topic.
"Sex can be treasured as a sacred act," he told a St. Louis newspaper columnist in 1991. "But maybe abstinence is the safest way. There's much virtue in abstinence and I think that's something that we as role models and parents and extended others really need to be preaching to the young people."

Kim says she confided in Johnson that she wasn't a virgin, though records and interviews indicate she probably understated the extent of her sexual experiences.

"She definitely was wild in that area," says her certified therapist, Kristan Larson, "and she viewed Kevin as giving her an opportunity to get away from that kind of life. That's what makes what I believe he did to her so damaging."

Fred Hiestand sees it differently, telling New Times that Johnson bore the brunt of Kim's preexisting emotional and sexual problems after Johnson--in her mind--jilted her.

"He had hugged her one time, and she wanted a kiss," Hiestand says. "And he broke off and realized that she had a misimpression of the hug. . . . And he talked to her about that. He's an expressive guy. He hugs people."

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