[NOTE: On Jan. 10, Jon Apo, Nelson Johnson’s attorney, finally responded to my inquiry. His brief response is now part of the text below.]
Maui Police Officer Nelson Johnson’s arraignment on one count of inflicting bodily injury on a minor and two other counts of causing physical abuse on minors took place on Christmas Eve, a recent review of court records showed. What’s more, the court records indicate that the two minors in question are a 14-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy (the original Maui PD press release, and subsequent news stories, listed the minor girl as Johnson’s 13-year-old daughter).
Because the alleged victims are minors, their names do not appear in the case file of State of Hawaii vs. Nelson L. K. Johnson, and there are few other details about what exactly transpired that led to Maui Police Detective Scott Y. Migita arresting Johnson on Dec. 2, 2013. But even the bare-bones complaint, signed by Maui County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John E. Tam on Nov. 29, 2013, is chilling:
Count 1: on Nov. 19, 2013, Johnson allegedly “recklessly cause[d] serious or substantial bodily injury to a minor female, age 14 years old…”
Count 2: On Nov. 19, 2013, Johnson allegedly “did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engage in and cause physical abuse of a family or household member, to wit, a minor female, age 14 years old…”
Count 3: On Nov. 19, 2013, Johnson allegedly “did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly engage in and cause physical abuse of a family or household member, to wit, a minor male, age 10 years old…”
According to the case file, Johnson–represented by Wailuku attorney Jon Apo–pleaded not guilty during his Dec. 24, 2013 arraignment. During the arraignment, the file shows, the court also “ordered defendant [to] stay away from [a specific Wailuku home] and UH Maui College and not have any contact with the two minor complaining witnesses and their mother.”
At the arraignment, Circuit Court Judge Peter Cahill scheduled Johnson’s jury trial for March 17 of this year. As for Apo, on Jan. 10 he emailed that he had no comment on his client’s case at this time.
“Thank you for your inquiry,” Apo wrote. “As of this time, the prosecution has yet to provide the defense with the discovery in this case, so I have nothing to comment about. Should the time come when I am in a position to comment on the case, I would be grateful for an opportunity to readdress your inquiry.”
Johnson–who allegedly assaulted MauiTime Publisher Tommy Russo in 2011–remains on administrative leave from the MPD.
Photo: Maui Police Department
About Anthony Pignataro
Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He started work as MauiTime's Editor in 2003, took a couple years off starting in 2008, then returned to the staff in 2011. He's the author of "Stealing Cars With The Pros," a 2013 collection of his journalism and the Maui novels "Small Island" (2011) and "The Dead Season" (2012)–all of which were published by Event Horizon Press. In 2014, his one-act play "War Stories" won second place in the Maui Fringe Festival.