Judge Extends Protection Order Against Paterson Aide
NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has extended an order of protection against an aide to New York’s governor charged with roughing up his former girlfriend.
David Johnson, looking calm, ignored reporters’ questions while leaving court on Thursday. His lawyer said they had no comment.
Johnson was charged Aug. 12 with assault, menacing, harassment and criminal mischief, all misdemeanors. He pleaded not guilty at that time. The incident touched off an evidence-tampering investigation and ultimately helped Gov. David Paterson decide to abandon his bid for a full term.
The confrontation between Johnson and Sherr-Una Booker occurred on Halloween 2009. Booker alleged that Johnson, angry over how she was dressed, choked her, threw her against a dresser and ripped her costume.
Johnson was suspended in February without pay, and he has not had any contact with Booker since a court appearance earlier this year, according to his attorney.
Paterson’s involvement in the case — he made a phone call to Booker before she let the case drop initially by not appearing in court — caused him serious political damage, even though investigators found no evidence of witness tampering.
Buffeted by other ethics questions about World Series tickets, the Democratic governor soon dropped plans to run for a full term this fall.
The attorney general’s office investigated whether intervention by Paterson and state troopers in the days after the confrontation caused Booker to call off the case. But a report by retired Judge Judith Kaye, who was put in charge of the review, found no criminal activity by anyone, except maybe Johnson.
Booker said Johnson tried to stop her from calling the police but eventually left the scene. She called 911 three times, at one point saying she was scared Johnson would come back to “finish the job.”
Police who responded saw no visible injuries and classified the confrontation as harassment, a violation. After the officers left, she was treated at a hospital and met with a staff social worker to discuss domestic violence resources.
No arrest was made, but officers did a follow-up visit. Johnson did not return to the home.
Booker sought a court order requiring Johnson to stay away and took the case to Family Court, where she told officials that in the days after the altercation, “the state troopers kept calling and harassing me to drop the charges.”
Booker told Judge Kaye that she initially decided not to pursue the matter because, among other reasons, Johnson had not contacted her since the confrontation and she no longer felt a threat.
On Thursday, defense attorney Oscar Michelin filed a standard motion seeking prosecution material.
Judge Miriam Best stated for the record that she had worked with a lawyer representing the victim. Neither side objected. She said it would not affect her ability to be fair and impartial.
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