Life would be simpler and safer if the transition from childhood to adulthood were marked with unambiguous lines.
But as we morph from larva to adult, the lines can appear blurry to some. The adult-looking surface can conceal the child within. It’s up to the adult to see the line – and to be adult enough not to cross it.
Jason Johnson, 38, failed utterly to recognize either that line or the state line when he whisked a 15-year-old Columbia County girl to Tennessee for illicit purposes in December 2016.
For six agonizing days, the girl’s family had no clue where she was – until Johnson’s arrest and her retrieval.
For that, he will spend close to 27 years in prison, U.S. District Judge Randal determined last Thursday – after he’d pleaded guilty last fall to transporting a minor with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
At least 27 years: Johnson still faces charges in Columbia County Superior Court of child molestation, enticing a child for indecent purposes, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and two counts of aggravated child molestation, all for the improper, illegal relationship spanning most of the second half of 2016.
He no doubt made things much worse for himself when he crossed that state line and invited federal charges. But the more important issue is the damage he’s done to his victim by crossing that other line and ferrying her across into adulthood far too soon.
In the process, authorities say he swaddled her in raiment degrading even to adults – plying her with methamphetamine and taking nude photos of her.
Without her having reached the age of majority, and certainly without the solemnity of ceremony, he carried her across a threshold she had absolutely no business crossing at such a tender age.
Those lines that cannot readily be seen by some have to be burned into their minds somewhere along their own youth’s path. If not, multiple lives are forever despoiled.