“Affluenza” has struck again.
Samuel Curtis “S. C.” Johnson III, the 59-year-old billionaire heir to the S. C. Johnson & Sons (formerly Johnson’s Wax) fortune, who confessed to repeatedly sexually assaulting his teenage stepdaughter, has received an prison sentence of only four months from Racine County Circuit Justice Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, citing the Johnson family’s importance in the community.
Johnson pled guilty to mere misdemeanor charges of fourth-degree sexual assault and disorderly conduct instead of felony sexual assault on a minor child. The victim told police Johnson was “a sex addict” and touched her inappropriately 15 to 20 times beginning when she was 12 years old. The stepdaughter has since moved to North Carolina and was unwilling to return to Wisconsin to testify in the case.
Johnson’s attorney, Michael F. Hart, that the maximum prison term for his client was not fair and should be reserved for “maximum defendants,” people unlike his client (read: not billionaires), who has no prior record and who leads a “productive life.”
Judge Gasiorkiewicz agreed and gave Johnson a fine of $6,000 and four months in prison. The judge ruled that he must serve at least 60 days of the sentence before he will be eligible for release.
This decision comes fast on the heels of several other high-profile cases in which justice has been perverted in favor of the very wealthy.
It was the case of Ethan Couch that gave us the “affluenza” defense. Couch, the son of a wealthy Texas businessman, fled the scene after he killed four people in a drunk driving accident and received only ten years’ probation from Judge Jean Boyd, thanks to his attorney’s argument that the teen suffered from “affluenza” and failed to grasp the consequences of his actions. Couch is now attending a very expensive, very prestigious rehab center, paid for not by his multi-millionaire parents but by the taxpayers of Texas.
Last month, a Washington state judge failed to sentence wealthy businessman Joshua Shaun Goodman, arrested for his seventh DUI and for leading police on a 100 mph chase through Olympia, that ended when he crashed into a home, to any jail time. The reason? According to Judge James Dixon, giving Goodman jail time “wouldn’t be fair for him.” The judge even gave Goodman permission to travel to New York and attend the Super Bowl while his case was being adjudicated.
Du Pont heir Robert H. Richards IV, had his sentence of eight years in prison for raping his daughter repeatedly between the ages of 3 and 5 as well as molesting his son starting at the age of 19 months, suspended by Delaware Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden. Why? Jurden thought the rapist “would not fare well” in prison. In 2009 Richards was placed on eight years' probation and ordered to attend an inpatient psychiatric program at MacLean Hospital in Massachusetts. As of April 2014 court records show that Richards has yet to appear for treatment.
While it is still a sad fact that justice in America is unequal for black and white, the color the system increasingly panders to most outrageously is green.