Convicted of rapes, man apologizes for old attack on actress

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from the Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK — Hours after a jury convicted him of raping and robbing two women in their Manhattan home in 1996, a serial sex offender apologized for an attack on actress Kelly McGillis more than a decade earlier.

Leroy Johnson, 39, didn’t react as the verdicts were read Monday morning, but he issued a statement later through his lawyer denying his guilt, and blaming news coverage of the case on his past victimization of the "Top Gun" actress.

"This case has received a lot of media attention," Johnson wrote. "I understand that this attention is largely because of the 1982 case involving Ms. Kelly McGillis."

"I want to say that I was only 15 years old," Johnson’s statement continued. "I was young; I made a big mistake, and I am sorry for what I did to her. I have always been sorry, and I admitted my guilt, which is why I pled guilty and accepted my punishment."

"However, I want the world to know I did not rape the two ladies in this (current) case," Johnson wrote. "I had nothing to do with the rape of those ladies and I want the world to know that I am innocent."

A jury disagreed, and Johnson was convicted on eight counts Monday in Manhattan’s state Supreme Court, including rape, sodomy, robbery and burglary. He faces up to 50 years in prison _ 25 years on each of the rape counts _ when Justice Renee White sentences him on June 27.

The two victims wept and made quiet applause gestures as Johnson was pronounced guilty. His lawyer, Bryan Konoski, said he was considering an appeal.

Johnson was accused of forcing his way into the two women’s Greenwich Village apartment on Nov. 18, 1996, and assaulting them at knifepoint.

He was arrested in May 2005 after evidence from the scene was submitted to advanced DNA testing technology.

Johnson’s trial began Wednesday and ended the next day. Jurors convicted him after deliberating a total of five hours over Friday and Monday.

One of the four male jurors said later that the DNA evidence weighed heavily in the verdicts. One of the panel’s eight women said she thought all the evidence was important. Neither gave their names and other jurors refused to comment.

Konoski had argued that the DNA sample used as the basis to charge Johnson was tainted and unreliable. He said the genetic material of another person was found in the sample, and that police and prosecutors failed to eliminate other men.

But Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford said scientists testified that the profile they found in the DNA sample would occur in about one in a trillion people.

"DNA works," Bashford said. "DNA took a crime that would never have been solved and solved it. The case was closed. It’s this defendant and no other who did this thing."

Johnson’s criminal history wasn’t mentioned during the trial. He was widely reported to have raped McGillis in 1982 in an incident about which she has spoken openly.

McGillis, now shooting a movie in Hawaii, said she was raped by a 15-year-old in 1982. She said she was in her early 20s and studying acting in New York when two men broke into her apartment and attacked her.

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