Try 3 months for $3

Portage police arrested two men early Wednesday on drug charges and allegations of sexual assault.

Travion Kimball, 18, and Michael Johnson, 39, both of Portage, appeared in Columbia County Circuit Court on Thursday. Johnson is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and repeated escape from an earlier incident, while Kimball has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, felony bail jumping and second-degree forced sexual assault.

“Mr. Kimball was recently convicted of two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and resisting or obstructing in a Brown County case and those convictions were entered August 22 of 2016,” said Assistant District Attorney Troy Cross, requesting that Kimball be held on $20,000 cash bond. “He was also convicted of resisting or obstructing an officer in Columbia County and that conviction was on Jan. 9 of 2017. And he currently has an open case with counts of taking a vehicle without an owner’s consent and one count of burglary and one count of misdemeanor theft.”

Defense attorney Tristan Eagon said Kimball has been working and has family in the area with plans on attending school “and adamantly denies the allegations that are contained in this criminal complaint. If cash is demanded, we would request a substantially lower cash bond.”

Kimball, with an apparent urgency much greater than the majority of defendants, vigorously nodded in agreement as Eagon stated his position.

Kimball and Johnson were arrested when Portage police were called to a Marion Street house on Wednesday, just past midnight. A woman let officers into the home, telling them that Johnson and Kimball had been doing drugs. Earlier that night, the woman told officers, Kimball had raped her in the basement of the building.

Officers found Kimball and Johnson in a bedroom, Johnson lying on the bed with a crack pipe nearby, while Kimball was lying on the floor next to the bed. One of the officers later spoke with Johnson’s wife, who reportedly said that Johnson had been texting her, asking her to smoke crack with him.

“Mr. Kimball we’ve got to stop meeting like this,” said Judge W. Andrew Voigt. “You have spent entirely too much of your life in this room via video or otherwise, dealing with me.”

In this case, Voigt said risks had changed since prior appearances, with a potential 46-year sentence attached to the first count of the charges, an objectively serious prison sentence which, Voigt explained, could convince a person to avoid returning to court.

“While we are dealing just in allegations, that is absolutely true at this point, I know enough about your history to know that has been a problem for you in the past,” said Voigt referring to Kimball’s conviction on two counts of misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault last August. “Not as much as it has been for others, but it certainly has been an issue. And I’m not aware that you have faced any charges this serious though. These charges are also serious in that I have to be concerned with the welfare of the public based on the allegation.”

Voigt ordered Kimball to be held on $20,000 cash bond and to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing.

Voigt was also familiar with Johnson who was looking at a misdemeanor charge of possession of drug paraphernalia and a felony case from an incident in which he walked away from Huber work release in early January.

Johnson had gone missing from the factory where he had been working between 3:30 and 4 a.m. on Jan. 5. Authorities were contacted about an hour later. That afternoon the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office was notified that Johnson had been located by Fitchburg police and was taken back into custody.

“Obviously any time we are talking about an escape from custody, that is serious,” said Voigt on Thursday. “That’s significantly mitigated by the fact that the conduct is alleged to have happened in January and apparently didn’t get filed until today. Someone doesn’t seem to be really excited to get that resolved.”

Although the seriousness of the escape was mitigated by his prompt return and eventual release, then continuing to work and pay child support, weighing on the other side, Voigt said, was Johnson’s status as a repeat visitor to the court.

“I am quite familiar with him from a number of circumstances and I am aware that his addiction issues seem to lead to most of his problems and I suspect it remains true,” said Voigt. “And it is unfortunate that he allegedly has not found a way to better address those issues over time.”

Voigt ordered Johnson to be held on a $100 cash bond in each case and to appear next in court for a July 3 hearing.