Johnson charged with assaulting 8-year-old girl

Updated: August 9, 2006, 11:32 PM ET
Associated Press

OCALA, Fla. -- Former NBA All-Star Eddie Johnson was denied bail Wednesday, a day after being arrested and charged with sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl.

Though Johnson told Marion County Judge John Futch that he wanted to represent himself, a public defender was assigned to his defense.

Johnson, 51, was charged Tuesday with sexual battery on a child under the age of 12 and residential burglary for entering the apartment where the girl was staying while her mother was out, said Sgt. Russ Kern of the Ocala police department.

He has also been charged with sexual battery and burglary in the rape of a 25-year-old woman Aug. 6 at an Ocala motel room, police said Wednesday.

Johnson, a guard from Auburn who played in the NBA from 1977-1987 with the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Seattle SuperSonics, was being held at the Marion County jail. He is not to be confused with the Eddie Johnson who is now a television analyst with his former team, the Phoenix Suns.

Johnson was being held at the Marion County jail.

The girl and her three brothers were staying in the apartment while their mother registered them at school, according to a police report. Johnson walked into the apartment uninvited and told the girl's 6-year-old brother to lock the door, police said.

The girl told detectives Johnson ordered her into a bedroom, where he sexually assaulted her, according to the police report. He then told her "not to tell anyone about what just happened," and tried to kiss her in the kitchen before leaving the apartment, the report stated.

She told her mother about the alleged assault when the woman returned to the apartment, police said. The girl's mother told detectives she knew Johnson from the neighborhood, but he had never had permission to be in her home.

Johnson was arrested in a field near the apartment building. He told detectives he had been in the apartment with the children, who were jumping on the bed.

He also told detectives he kissed the girl on the head, which he does all the neighborhood children "as a friendly gesture," according to the police report.

On Wednesday, Johnson denied entering the girl's home to the Ocala Star-Banner. He told the newspaper that the girl's mother is a friend to whom he gives money.

"I love them kids like my own. I'm no pervert. I'm a loving father," Johnson said. "I don't go over there unless her mother is there and then I'll go to get something to eat."

Since 1989, online Marion County court records show Johnson has had numerous convictions: burglary, battery, robbery, marijuana possession, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest, along with a charge last month of battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting or obstructing an officer without violence, the newspaper reported Wednesday.

He represented the Hawks in the 1980 and 1981 NBA All-Star games and scored 10,163 career points.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press