Samuel Curtis Johnson III, the billionaire heir to SC Johnson cleaning supplies, plead guilty to sexually assaulting his stepdaughter on Friday but was only sentenced to four months in jail, and will have to serve at least 60 days and a fine of $6,000.
Johnson is the latest case in a long line of examples of how the justice system and society as a whole works differently for those who have money and power. In another example, a wealthy heir who raped his 3-year-old daughter got off with probation because the judge felt “he wouldn’t do well in prison.” The story of the wealthy heir who struck and killed several and got off because of “affluenza” is another well-known example.
The crime that Johnson was charged with carries a 40 year sentence, but the prosecutors reduced the charges to a misdemeanor because the family of the stepdaughter refused to cooperate when Johnson’s lawyers demanded a release of the girl’s medical records. They wanted to see the medical records to know if the girl had reported the assault to her therapist, and when her family wouldn’t allow the release of the records, she was barred from taking the stand, and the case fell apart without a witness. The prosecutor for the state attempted to retrieve the records from the clinic that Johnson had checked into, but the clinic refused.
So it’s okay to demand the victim reveal her full medical history, but not the perpetrator.
The victim said that Johnson was a “sex addict” and touched her inappropriately 15 to 20 time starting when she was 12-years-old. When she told her mother to protect her younger sister, her mother confronted Johnson, and only after Johnson was assured he wasn’t being filmed, he admitted to fondling the victim inappropriately.
“Refusing to cooperate” is one of the major reasons why rapists and sexual offenders escape with light fines, if they’re charged with anything at all, and it obscures the difficulties and power dynamics that shape the the life of the victim and her relationship with her identity, family, and associates, when she comes forward. This is compounded if the prep is a family member, which is sadly all to often the case.
While Johnson isn’t associated with the company his family founded anymore, if you feel like boycotting SC Johnson, you can find a list of their brands here.