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Thursday, Jan 16 2014 10:31 AM

Reports detail series of rapes that terrorized east Bakersfield

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    By Courtesy Kern County Sheriff's Office

    Billy Ray Johnson Jr.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The 17-year-old girl woke up in the dead of night to a man on top of her and a gun in her face.

Her roommate was asleep in another bedroom. The man knew this.

"I'm going to rape you," he told her. "If you yell, I'm going to kill you and the girl in the other room."

The girl grabbed for the gun, and he struck her repeatedly on the head with it. The noise alerted the roommate. After he also hit her with the gun, she ran to another apartment for help.

The suspect slipped away, but the sexual assaults and attempted assaults that terrorized east Bakersfield this past summer had just begun.

Alleged details of that July 1 break-in, as well as three others Billy Ray Johnson Jr. is accused of committing, are contained in documents recently filed in court. They lay out how Johnson allegedly entered residences in the middle of the night, raped the inhabitants and stole valuables, then managed to escape.

Prosecutors said DNA evidence links the 33-year-old to the crimes. The assaults occurred July 1, July 18, Aug. 1 and Aug. 19, and involved five victims.

Among the charges Johnson has pleaded not guilty to in the case are rape, false imprisonment, assault with a gun and lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14. He declined an interview request from jail.

His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman, has said investigators arrested the wrong man.

The July 1 incident happened at 3:20 a.m. in an apartment in the 2900 block of Virginia Avenue. Investigators discovered that the suspect entered through a bedroom window.

The next attack happened July 18 in the 4300 block of Columbus Street. A woman was in an apartment dozing with her 19-month-old daughter after her husband had left for work, according to the reports.

She was awakened at 5 a.m. by a gloved hand placed over her mouth.

"Don't move, I do not want to hurt you," Johnson is accused of telling her. "Think about your daughter."

The reports say Johnson took her into the living room and tied her hands behind her back with a strap from her daughter's purse. They say he stole her driver's license and $40 from her wallet.

Johnson then raped the woman, the reports say. Afterward, he forced her to take a shower. He washed her himself.

Investigators say he entered the apartment through a bathroom window.

On Aug. 1, four people, including three children, were allegedly terrorized by Johnson. The reports say a woman living in the 2900 block of Virginia Avenue was leaving for work at 4:40 a.m. when Johnson confronted her and forced her back inside the apartment.

The woman's children -- ranging in age from seven to 13 -- were in the bedroom. The reports say Johnson used zip ties to bind the woman's hands and ankles together behind her back, then covered her mouth with duct tape.

He stole her debit card and raped her, it's alleged. He then removed the clothes of the two older children and bound them before molesting one of them, according to the reports.

Before leaving, he told them not to call the police.

The final assault happened Aug. 19 in the 200 block of Quantico Avenue. The reports say a woman was asleep in her bed with her 9-year-old daughter when she awoke about 3:30 a.m. to the sound of a kitchen window opening.

Johnson entered the bedroom and pointed a gun at her, reports say. They say he bound her and placed duct tape on her eyes and mouth, then cut off her shirt with a knife.

"You know what I'm going to do to you," he allegedly said.

The reports say he raped her, and then washed her in a bathtub. He left her there and entered another room.

The mother heard her daughter say, "You're not my daddy." Fearing he was abusing her daughter, the mother tore off the zip ties and raced through the apartment. She found her daughter outside and Johnson gone.

Johnson had forced the daughter to tell him where the phones in the apartment were, the reports say. She gave him the location of two, but didn't tell him about a third phone in her room.

She used that phone to call 911, and when Johnson saw her she ran to get help from another apartment.

Authorities developed and followed numerous leads. Johnson's name came up, and they kept a close watch on him, arresting him Oct. 14 on a weapons charge.

Johnson was in custody on that charge when he was indicted by a grand jury for the rapes.

A trial is scheduled for May 12. Johnson is being held on $5 million bail.

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