SC Johnson heir charged with sex assault of child

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 25, 2011 5:19 PM

By John Rondy

MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - Samuel Curtis Johnson III, a billionaire heir of the SC Johnson & Son fortune, has been charged with repeated sexual assault of his stepdaughter, officials said on Friday.

The child is now 15, and the alleged assault went on for "several years," according to Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes.

Johnson, 55, of Racine, Wisconsin, has been released on a $500,000 bond.

The charge involves 10 to 15 separate incidents, Nieskes said. If convicted, Johnson could serve up to 40 years in prison.

"Obviously, this is a personal matter for Curt, but allegations of this type are always deeply disturbing," said Harlan Loeb, spokesman for the Johnson family. "The family is distraught and hopes for the best for everyone involved."

Kelly Samrau, a spokeswoman for SC Johnson, the privately held Racine, Wisconsin-based maker of household products such as Raid bug sprays and Windex cleaner, said the case has no bearing on the company.

Samrau said Johnson has not worked with the company for 15 years. Johnson's brother, Fisk Johnson, is chair and CEO of SC Johnson.

Samuel Curtis Johnson had been chairman of Diversey, Inc., a Wisconsin cleaning product company also controlled by the Johnson family, but resigned from the board and took a leave of absence as chair February 21 for "personal reasons," according to a statement from Diversey.

Michael F. Hart, an attorney for Johnson, was not immediately available for comment.

A Friday hearing to determine whether certain redacted portions of the criminal complaint would be made public was canceled and rescheduled for April 13 as part of a preliminary hearing.

(Writing by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Jerry Norton)