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Sex offender to remain free despite new law

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Prosecutors say they won't seek involuntary commitment for a convicted sex offender who faces nearly two dozen counts of abuse in Utah but has remained free because of a legal loophole.
PAUL FOY
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Prosecutors say they won't seek involuntary commitment for a convicted sex offender who faces nearly two dozen counts of abuse in Utah but has remained free because of a legal loophole.

Prosecutors say mental health officials consider Lonnie Johnson beyond treatment, so he can't be forcibly committed. Johnson can't be prosecuted because a judge ruled he was incompetent to stand trial on the rape and sex assault charges.

He was convicted previously for rape in Washington state, but under Utah law, a judge couldn't consider that case when determining whether to keep Johnson confined, so he was freed.

Utah prosecutors had planned to seek civil commitment again under a new law that took effect Tuesday, but they now say it won't be pursued.

Johnson's family has maintained the Utah allegations are false.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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