A Parkers Prairie man has been charged with six felony counts of second-degree child sexual abuse.
Charles Frederick Johnson, 26, was arrested for sexual contact involving two girls who were about ages 2 and 3 at the time and who are now ages 5 and 6.
In July, Johnson was in the news after he lost an eye in a July 4 fireworks accident.
This month, the stepmother of one of the girls said she saw the older girl touching a young boy inappropriately and began asking questions, according to Minnesota court records and an Echo Press interview with the stepmother. The Echo Press is not naming the mother in order to protect the identity of the children.
“Little kids don’t just do that,” the stepmother told the Echo Press. “She learned that from somewhere.”
After the Parkers Prairie Police Department received the complaint, a child protection specialist helped interview the girls. Now ages 5 and 6, the older girl said the abuse happened when they asked Johnson why he had his pants down, court records say. He asked them to “play with it” and the older girl was able to demonstrate what he meant using hand gestures.
According to the court records, Johnson told police the abuse happened three times in one week during the summer of 2017.
“Defendant said that he had been feeling extremely guilty ever since it happened, and it has not happened since,” the court records said.
Johnson’s account differed from the one that the girls provided to investigators. He told police that he covered up before ejaculating and did not believe the girls witnessed it. However, the older girl’s account contradicted that.
Johnson is being held in the Otter Tail County Jail on $150,000 bond.
On July 4, he was setting off fireworks at a public access on Lake Adley in Parkers Prairie when one of them exploded in his face, costing him an eye. He was well known locally as a friendly cook in Vining, Minnesota, and the community responded sympathetically, raising $6,000 for him through a Go Fund Me site. However, the girl’s stepmother said some people now want their money back.
The stepmother is raising money through Go Fund Me for a lawyer, she said, so that she and her fiance can gain permanent custody of the older girl, who is her fiance’s daughter.
Each felony charge carries a 25-year sentence and a $35,000 fine, although if convicted, Johnson would likely serve much less than that.
A court hearing is set for Wednesday, Sept. 2. Johnson has been appointed a public defender, who could not be reached for comment for this article.