NEW YORK – An ex-convict who raped a celebrity nearly 25 years ago was found guilty Monday of raping and robbing two young women in their Manhattan apartment 1996.
Johnson, who remains jailed without bail while he awaits sentencing, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read. This contrasted with the reactions of the two victims, who wept and made quiet applause gestures as Johnson was pronounced guilty.
One of the four male jurors said later that the DNA evidence weighed heavily in the verdicts against Johnson, and one of the eight women on the panel said she considered everything to have been important. Neither gave their names and other jurors refused to comment.
Johnson is widely reported to have been the person who raped actress Kelly McGillis in the 1980s — an attack she has discussed publicly.
Johnson was accused of forcing his way into the two women's Greenwich Village apartment on Nov. 18, 1996, and raping and robbing them at knifepoint. He was arrested in May 2005 through a DNA match after evidence from the scene was submitted to advanced testing technology.
Johnson's lawyer, Bryan Konoski, told the jurors in closing arguments that the DNA sample used as the basis to charge his client was tainted and unreliable. He argued that the genetic material of another person was found in the sample, and that police and prosecutors failed to eliminate other men as suspects.
But Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford said scientists had testified that the profile they found in the DNA sample would occur in about one in a trillion people.
"DNA works," Bashford said. "DNA took a crime that would never have been solved and solved it. The case was closed. It's this defendant and no other who did this thing."
Prosecutors say Johnson had committed rapes before the 1996 attack. Assistant District Attorney Michele Bayer told the court that in 1982, when he was 15, Johnson raped two women, one of whom "has since become famous and has spoken publicly about the case."
Bayer did not identify the famous victim, but it has been widely reported that it was McGillis, star of the hit films "Top Gun," "Witness" and "The Accused."
McGillis' personal manager, David Williams, said last week that the Manhattan district attorney's office had contacted the actress to let her know Johnson's trial was starting. He also said she has been "very forthcoming" in discussing her ordeal.
McGillis, now shooting a movie in Hawaii, has said she was raped by a 15-year-old in 1982. She said she was in her early 20s and studying acting in New York when two men broke into her apartment and attacked her. She has not identified the rapist, and prosecutors have refused to say she was Johnson's victim in 1982.
When Johnson finished a term at Auburn State Prison in December 1991, he was arrested by U.S. marshals after prison employees reported hearing him threatening the lives of two former presidents, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. He was convicted on those charges in November 1992.