MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 31-year-old Blaine man who is a deputy with the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department is accused of stalking a woman he met through a dating site, according to charges filed Tuesday in Dakota County Court.
Brian Rhett Johnson was charged with stalking (false impersonation) in connection with the incident, which happened between Aug. 27 and Sept. 15. Authorities said Johnson is a Hennepin County sheriff’s deputy who works at the Hennepin County Jail.
According to the charges, the victim, who is a resident of Apple Valley, contacted police and said she believed she was being stalked by Johnson. She told authorities she had met him in June through a dating website, but ended the relationship on Aug. 24.
The complaint states that on Aug. 27, Johnson sent her 30 Facebook messages and was at her place of employment with his kids and wanted to talk to her. He repeatedly asked her to contact him, told her he needs to see her, he misses her and cannot move on without her.
According to the complaint, he sent her another message the next day. She responded to him, saying “I’ve asked you to stop. This is harassment, leave me alone.” Johnson messaged the woman 15 more times that day. She responded, saying “If you don’t leave me alone, I’m going to get an OFP (Order For Protection). Do not contact me. I have blocked your cell phone, Facebook account that you previously contact me on, and Snapchat with is the only other form of social media I use. Do not try and contact me again. Do not come to my work. Leave me alone.”
The complaint states Johnson then sent the victim eight more messages and every time she would block him from her Facebook account, he we would create a new profile under a different name to contact her. After she contacted police, authorities made contact with Johnson and he admitted to police he was aware that she told him to stop contacting her.
An officer attempted to read a stalking warning letter to Johnson, who refused to listen. Police said they would continue investigating if he continued to contact her. Johnson said, “If she doesn’t want messages she could block that” and he told police it was his “First Amendment Right” and he would say anything he wanted to her, according to the complaint.
The complaint states Johnson contacted the woman on Aug. 29 on Facebook and asked her to meet him. She responded, saying to leave her alone. He responded, saying “Oh my gosh. I’m so glad to hear from you. I understand that I have been contacting you a lot but that is because I have made huge mistakes. It drives me sick to my stomach to not talk to you and send you all these messages.”
The woman told police she was fearful and intimidated by Johnson and because of his harassment felt anxious and stressed. Johnson told her during their relationship that he is a police officer and owns two guns, according to the complaint. An investigation revealed Johnson is a licensed officer.
The complaint states on Sept. 9, Johnson sent her another message through Facebook. An audit request was made to see if Johnson tried to find her residence through records with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. He contacted her, saying that had gotten back to his employer. The employer had not yet been contacted by the Apple Valley Police Department.
Johnson was arrested at his residence on Sept. 11. He admitted that he was “blowing up her phone” and that it was probably too much. He admitted he was aware that the victim could be fearful in the situation.
Johnson made his first court appearance on Monday and was released on conditions, including not contacting the victim or showing up at her residence. He’s been placed on administrative leave as a result of the case.
If convicted, Johnson faces up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.