By John Rondy
MILWAUKEE (Reuters) - A Racine County circuit judge said on Friday he would allow the state to present evidence that Samuel Curtis Johnson III had admitted to a therapist that he sexually molested his stepdaughter.
Johnson, 55, is the billionaire heir of the SC Johnson & Son fortune. He was charged with repeated sexual assault of his stepdaughter in March, and subsequently entered a plea of not guilty.
Through his lawyers, Johnson had sought to suppress a statement made to an Arizona therapist, and he also asserted that Wisconsin's doctor-patient privilege protected such statements.
On Friday, circuit judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz ruled that under both Arizona and Wisconsin law the admission to a therapist is not considered confidential information, said Racine County District Attorney Michael Nieskes.
Johnson, 55, of Racine, Wisconsin, is free on $500,000 bond. If convicted, Johnson could serve up to 40 years in prison.
The charge involves 10 to 15 separate incidents from June 2007 until November 2010. The child is now 15.
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.
Also on Friday, the judge granted a request from the defense to see the medical records of the victim, but those records will be reviewed by the judge first to determine what will be made available Johnson's attorneys, Nieskes said. A status hearing on the case was scheduled for October 21.
(Editing by Greg McCune)