A Santa Clara repairman who fled the country after repeatedly sexually assaulting a young girl will spend the rest of his life in jail. On Nov. 16, Apollo Johnsen, who also goes by the name Dennis Ray Johnsen, was sentenced 240 years-to-life plus 44 years and eight months.
Johnsen was convicted of multiple counts of child molestation in September 2019. He was convicted despite the fact that he fled the country in the middle of the trial. The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office put out alerts about Johnsen’s flight, but did not get a lead on his whereabouts until earlier this year when a woman met Johnsen in the Dominican Republic.
According to the Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office, the woman became suspicious and Googled Johnsen’s name. When she found details of his arrest and conviction, she immediately notified authorities. U.S. Marshals picked up Johnsen in the Boca Chica, Dominican Republic earlier this year and brought him back to the U.S. for sentencing.
The woman, who did not want to be named, sent a message to the prosecutor’s office that said in part, “You don’t have to say thank you. I AM A MOTHER. We are not all pure and have mistakes, but you can’t close your eyes to that.”
District Attorney Jeff Rosen says it was a group effort that brought Johnsen back to face justice.
“There is no safe haven for people who harm children in our community,” said Rosen. “From a suspicious mother in the Caribbean to law enforcement to our prosecutor, we worked together to bring this fugitive to justice.”
Authorities say the abuse began in 2005 in Johnsen’s Santa Clara home. They say he abused a six-year-old girl multiple times. Ten years later, when she was 16, he raped her in her East Bay home. According to the District Attorney’s Office, the girl did not tell anyone about the abuse until May 2016 when she was hospitalized with a panic attack. Johnsen was arrested a month later and released on bail.
Johnsen’s trial started in June 2019, but his attorneys were granted a 3-month mid-trial continuance for a medical procedure. It was during that time that he escaped.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, this is not Johnsen’s first conviction. He was also convicted of felony second-degree robbery and false imprisonment. In 1993, Johnsen posed as a heating/air conditioning repairman to gain access to a credit union before it opened. Once he was inside, he held an employee at gunpoint and stole over $50,000. When a second employee came in for work, he tied her up at gunpoint and then ran away.