Former Windsor Spitfires center and 2012 90th-overall pick Ben Johnson has been found guilty of sexual assault stemming from a 2013 nightclub incident, and the New Jersey Devils prospect has subsequently had his contract terminated by the team.
Johnson, 22, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a girl in the bathroom of a downtown Windsor nightclub in March 2013. Johnson was 18 at the time of the incident and the complainant was 16. He had pleaded not guilty ahead of the trial, but the guilty verdict was delivered after a 10-day trial that saw both Johnson and the complainant give testimony.
The victim said she did not consent to sexual intercourse with Johnson, and the Windsor Star reported that she testified a combination of alcohol and Prozac made her black out. Johnson had said the victim was “fine.” However, according to the Windsor Star, Justice Kirk Munroe said he rejected “the evidence of Mr. Johnson that the complainant was ‘fine.’ She was near comatose.”
Johnson said he and the victim did not have sexual intercourse, but testified that she initiated and performed oral sex on him.
Munroe said that he did not believe Johnson’s denial that sexual intercourse took place. Evidence such as blood and testimony from medical experts led the judge to determine sexual intercourse had taken place. Munroe stated that Johnson’s denial of the incident sounded like a “memorized mantra,” according to the Windsor Star.
Johnson is also facing a $3.95-million civil lawsuit from the victim, who has also named Mynt nightclub in the suit.
Following the guilty verdict, the Devils released a short statement.
“Earlier today, the club was informed of Windsor Superior Court Justice Kirk Munroe’s ruling against Mr. Johnson,” the Devils announced. “Based on the ruling, the club has initiated the process required to terminate Mr. Johnson’s Standard Player’s Contract.”
The Devils added that they would not comment further on the situation.
Johnson had spent the past three seasons playing in the Devils organization, beginning with a five-game stint with the Albany Devils in 2013-14. He played another 44 games for Albany across the past two seasons, as well as making stops with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and Adirondack Thunder. Before making the jump to the AHL, Johnson played two seasons with the Spitfires.