BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) — After a judge sentenced a woman convicted of sexually abusing a girl for years to less than half the recommended prison time, a Washington prosecutor has requested the judge vacate the conviction, recuse herself from the case and send it to another judge for re-sentencing.
Kristi Lynn Johnston, 32, was sentenced July 6 to a little over two years in prison on one count of second-degree child molestation, according to court records obtained by the Bellingham Herald.
Johnston and her husband Damian Johnston were arrested in July 2019 for the ongoing sexual abuse of a girl they’ve known since she was 12, according to court records.
Whatcom County Prosecutor Erik Sigmar stated at the sentencing hearing that his recommended sentence — which was agreed upon by the prosecution, defense, the victim, the sheriff’s office the state Department of Corrections and Johnston — was five years in prison.
But, Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Lee Grochmal sentenced Kristi Johnston to just two years and five months in prison.
In Sigmar’s motion, filed July 15, he argues that Grochmal improperly investigated a separate case in which Johnston was herself sexually abused when she was a girl. Sigmar accuses Grochmal of considering Kristi Johnston’s past trauma in sentencing her and violating judicial standards for fairness and impartiality.
Grochmal says while Johnston’s past trauma doesn’t excuse her behavior, facts in a case in which Johnston endured years of sexual abuse that resulted in a pregnancy at age 14 are relevant and need to be considered.
“We need to focus in this case on rehabilitation for everybody,” Grochmal said. “We need to focus on rehabilitation for Ms. Johnston.”
As it stands, Johnston’s 27 month sentence will run consecutively with a separate residential burglary charge in which she forced her foot into her upstairs neighbor’s doorway and pushed her palm into her upstairs neighbor’s daughter’s face. In total, Johnston will spend three years and three months in prison.
Damian Johnston was also charged and is scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 21.