Pa. man flees as more rape charges are brought

December 10, 2008|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

A Pennsylvania municipal official and former police officer charged with raping a woman in Southeast Baltimore has fled after being charged with two other rapes in his home county, and police say he is considered an armed and dangerous serial rapist.

Michael L. Johnson Jr., 40, was arrested Dec. 1 at his Hanover, Pa., home and charged in connection with the Baltimore attack, in which a man claiming to be a Maryland state trooper assaulted a woman as she was handcuffed inside a minivan.

He posted $100,000 bail at the York County prison and was released three days later, though York city police have since charged him with two more counts of rape.

York County District Attorney H. Stanley Rebert said Johnson was to turn himself in on the new charges yesterday morning but did not appear. The new charges mirror the Baltimore allegations, with the attacker targeting drug-addicted women and posing as a police officer.

"It's certainly arguable that we have a serial rapist here," Rebert said at a news conference.

According to court documents, Johnson, a York police officer from 1994 to 1999, was born in Baltimore. The Republican currently serves as president of the Penn Township board of commissioners. He is also an Army veteran and married father of two who ran for Congress in 2002.

In the Baltimore case, police say Johnson picked up a 21-year-old woman in the Baltimore Highlands area on Nov. 2 and told her he was arresting her for prostitution as part of a sting operation. According to court records, he handcuffed her to the back seat of a minivan and then drove her to an industrial area in the rear of the 4400 block of E. Monument St. and had sex with her.

The victim, who told police that she had been buying heroin when Johnson picked her up, gave investigators a license plate number and a description of the silver van. The information led to Johnson, who was taken into custody at his home after a two-hour standoff.

The new charges allege that on one day in September, he picked up prostitutes in York, showed a police badge to both women and raped them. One of them was threatened with a Taser, police say.

Johnson was last seen driving a 2006 blue Chevy Cobalt sedan, with Pennsylvania license plate MB11785. Anyone with information is asked to call York police at 717-846-1234.

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