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Charges filed in SKHS brawl

Three of the four alleged attackers in Nov. 30 brawl at South Kitsap High School have been charged with assault in the fourth degree.

The fourth girl was charged with harassment, but her case was forwarded to the diversion department, meaning if she accepts the diversion and completes all its requirements, she will never be formally charged in court for this crime.

Megan Johnson, 17, also had her assault-four charge forwarded to the diversion department. Her twin, Melissa Johnson, was eligible for a diversion, but was rejected because of the nature of her alleged involvement in the attack.

“Basically, based of the seriousness of the offense, it was not appropriate,” said Jennifer Forbes, the deputy prosecutor who charged the girls. “Melissa was a primary aggressor. She was the one doing most of the damage, from what I can tell in the report.”

Diversions are only available for first-time misdemeanor offenses. The program allows first-time defendants to take the consequences of their crime — usually community service or a letter of apology to the victim — without having the charge on their permanent record.

The fourth alleged attacker, Nicole Johnson, 17, was not eligible because she had a number of past convictions. She is apparently not related to the Johnson twins, although they often refer to themselves as cousins.

“Of the four girls, she was probably the least directly involved,” Forbes said.

According to police reports, the four alleged attackers jumped the victim during lunch hour at the high school. She was severely beaten and had to be transported to Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital for treatment.

The four alleged attackers were all expelled from SKHS, although the girl who was charged with harassment has successfully appealed her expulsion and is back in school.

Forbes said that although she hasn’t received the witness statements, which may number in the hundreds, her impression was that the attack was “very nasty.” She said the victim told her there was a history of the four alleged assailants threatening and harassing her.

“These things get out of control,” Forbes said. “It can be torture for some kids to go to school every day.”

The girls will be arraigned Dec. 27, but will likely receive their charging documents next week. Forbes said the diversion paperwork may take a little longer.

She said the case has moved forward much more quickly than usual because of the amount of parental interest — Forbes said she was getting phone calls even before she had the chance to read the case material.

For the two alleged attackers still being charged with a crime, the sentencing range for assault-four conviction is between zero and 12 months probation, zero to 30 days detention, zero to 150 hours of community service and a $0 to $500 fine.

Forbes has already made her sentencing recommendation, and said the recommended penalties for Melissa and Nicole are similar, despite Nicole’s criminal history.

“Nicole was the only one who expressed remorse,” she said.

The four accused maintain they were the ones who were originally attacked, even though the victim recently obtained a no-contact order against three of them.

“(The fight) was completely mutual,” Nicole Johnson said. “There was no (name withheld) getting jumped.”

She said she did her best to stay out of the fight, and only got involved after she perceived Megan was in danger of being seriously injured. She said the only reason she was accused was because the school knew her criminal record.

“I’ve come a long way,” Nicole said. “I’ve learned my lesson.”

Melissa Johnson was not available for comment, but Megan called the fight “the worst experience” she’d ever been in and said she was in shock for long after the battle was stopped.

“I’ve never been in a fight before,” Megan said. “I’m not a violent person. I’ll take full responsibility for what I did.”

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