Former Windsor Spitfires forward Ben Johnson was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday.
Johnson, 22, was convicted in early September of raping a then 16-year-old “near comatose” girl in the washroom of Windsor nightclub in 2013. The assault occurred when he was 18 and still playing for the Ontario Hockey League team.
In addition to the prison time the former New Jersey Devils prospect will also have to be registered as a sex offender for the next 20 years and provide a blood sample for a DNA database. He is also prohibited from owning weapons for 10 years.
The maximum sentence for sexual assault is 10 years. The crown had been asking for a jail sentence of between three-and-a-half to four years for the native of Calumet, Michigan.
In addressing the court on Tuesday, Johnson told Superior Court Justice Kirk Monroe that he had grown as a person since the assault and was now a married man. The judge however noted that the sentence had to fit the severity of offence and the impact it had not only on the victim, but on her family as well.
"This sir is a very serious offence," said Munroe.
Judge - " you violated her and injured her physically and mentally." @CTVWindsor
— Sacha Long (@SachaLongCTV) October 25, 2016
Johnson's lawyer, Patrick Ducharme, told reporters he plans to appeal the conviction.
A day prior to the sentencing the family of the girl – whose identity is protected by a court order – read victim impact statements to the court. The girl’s sister and brother were also at the now-defunct Mynt nightclub with her at the time of the incident.
Victim's sister tells the court the images of her baby sister left bloodied and vomiting on bathroom floor haunt her imagination. #cklw
— Teresinha Medeiros (@tmedeiros800) October 24, 2016
Johnson was found not guilty of a second, separate sexual assault charge stemming from another bathroom incident which occurred in January 2013 at a different Windsor bar.
After his conviction the New Jersey Devils, who drafted him in the third round in 2012, began the process of releasing him from his contract. Johnson had played with the team's AHL affiliate in Albany and the ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears.
“Earlier today, the club was informed of Windsor Superior Court Justice Kirk Munroe’s ruling against Mr. Johnson,” the team said in a press release. “Based on the ruling, the club has initiated the process required to terminate Mr. Johnson’s Standard Player’s Contract.”
“The organization will have no further comment.”