Ben Johnson, a former third-round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils, was found guilty of sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl in the bathroom stall of a Windsor, Ontario bar in March of 2013. He has not yet been sentenced.
Hours after the verdict became public, the Devils organization released a brief statement confirming that the club had begun the process of terminating the remaining year on Johnson’s contract.
“Earlier today, the club was informed of Windsor Superior Court Justice Kirk Munroe’s ruling against Mr. Johnson,” the statement read. “Based on the ruling, the club has initiated the process required to terminate Mr. Johnson’s Standard Player’s Contract.”
He had never appeared in an NHL game with the Devils.
Now 22, Johnson was playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires when he was charged with sexual assault. A year ago, he pleaded not guilty to the charges.
More on the trial and verdict from the Toronto Sun:
The complainant testified she did not consent and the Crown argued she was so intoxicated that she wasn’t capable of consent.
Johnson said he never had sexual intercourse with the girl, and testified she gave him oral sex, that it was consensual and the girl initiated it, but Munroe ruled the evidence did not support Johnson’s testimony.
Munroe said he found Johnson’s testimony “unbelievable” based on evidence provided by a sexual assault nurse and multiple witnesses in the bar that night.
According to the Windsor Star, Johnson and the since-closed Mynt nightclub were named in a $3.95 million lawsuit from the woman, who is now 20 years old.
Last November, Johnson was found not guilty in a separate criminal trial tied to sexual assault allegations from a different woman in 2013.
Johnson was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract by the Devils in 2014, more than a year after he was initially charged. He played in parts of three seasons with the Devils’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Albany Devils, but finished last season in the ECHL with the Adirondack Thunder.
The Michigan native was released for the night, but is due back in court Friday morning where the judge will determine whether or not he should remain in custody ahead of sentencing.
Source: CBS Sports / Devils prospect found guilty of sexual assault; team terminates contract