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'Lonnie Johnson' bill on Utah sex offenders OK'd

Published March 8, 2012 11:18 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Senate gave final passage Thursday to a bill designed to prevent releasing to the community sex offenders who are deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial. It would allow forcibly committing them to a mental hospital instead.

The Senate voted 29-0 to pass HB14, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

The bill came in response to the case of Lonnie Johnson, a previously convicted sex offender who faces 20 new child sex abuse counts. Johnson was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial and was released in April.

Fourth District Court Judge James Taylor ruled that Johnson could not be placed in a mental institution because state law only allows for involuntary commitments of patients who are considered physically violent. Taylor ruled that Johnson was sexually violent but not physically violent.

Lee Davidson