Man who sought girl for sex sent to prison

Steven Johnson, right, stands during his sentencing hearing Thursday.

CORUNNA — A Flint man was sentenced to at least 15 months in prison by 35th Circuit Court Judge Matthew Stewart for attempting to meet what the defendant thought was a 15-year old girl at a hotel to have sex.

Steven Johnson, 43, was given the prison term, and ordered to pay court fines and costs. He was credited with three days served toward his sentence.

Johnson pleaded guilty to child sexually abusive activity Sept. 21. In return for his guilty plea, the other two felony charges were dismissed.

Instead of meeting a girl at a local hotel in May, he was greeted by police, who had been conducting a sting operation looking for individuals seeking out minors online.

Before announcing sentence, Stewart thanked Johnson, who is a veteran, for his service, but noted a prison sentence was warranted.

“How do we discourage adults, 47-year-olds, 67-year-olds, from preying on children?” Stewart asked. “How do we do that? Well, the easiest way this court can do that is to sentence early… We have to let the people know in the community this is not OK.”

Shiawassee County Prosecutor Scott Koerner said Johnson was specifically told in text messages that the non-existent girl was 15.

“The defendant is a predator, plain and simple,” Koerner said. “It’s very explicit in the text messages back and forth that he was well aware this child was 15.”

Defense attorney Robert Hinojosa told the court his client is a hard worker who holds two, and sometimes, three jobs. He asked for leniency.

“Mr. Johnson is much more than what is on paper here, and I would ask the court to take that into consideration,” Hinojosa said.

Johnson apologized in a statement, and said he would take responsibility for his actions.

“I was wrong,” Johnson said. “I’m really regretful for what I did. I’m truly remorseful. It was a regretful position that I put myself into that I never should have… I’m hoping to get through this and be a better person.”

Following the attempted meet-up, Johnson was charged with child sexually abusive activity, using a computer to commit a crime, and accosting a minor for immoral purposes, all felonies.

He was arraigned June 28 before former 66th District Court Magistrate Dan Nees; he pleaded not guilty and court records indicate Johnson posted a $25,000 cash/surety bond the same day.

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