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Kingsport man pleads guilty to soliciting sex from undercover detective posing as 15-year-old girl

Kacie Breeding • Oct 9, 2012 at 10:48 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — A Kingsport man has pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from an undercover detective posing as a 15-year-old girl. A charge alleging he sent the detective a pornographic image was dismissed.

Zachary W. Johnson, 22, 3724 Hughes Drive, Kingsport, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a single count of solicitation of sexual exploitation of a minor by electronic means, a Class A misdemeanor, in Sullivan County Circuit Judge Jerry Beck’s courtroom. A second count was dismissed reportedly because the cell phone that contained a pornographic image Johnson allegedly sent had not been retained.

Johnson was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days in jail, with 75 percent service required. The possibility of alternative sentencing to be determined at a Jan. 7, 2013, hearing. He was ordered to pay a $3,000 sexual offender surcharge and a $200 fine, will undergo a sex offender evaluation, and will be added to the Tennessee Sexual Offender Registry for at least 10 years, after which he may petition to come off the registry.

According to court records, a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office detective texted Johnson that he was a 15-year-old female student at Sullivan South High School after a student reported a complaint about Johnson on April 4, 2011. The girl reported that Johnson, then 20, had been texting her and came to the school to meet her. When she refused to “hang out” with him, he became angry and left, then sent her a text threatening to kill himself later that evening, she said.

Deputies made an attempt to contact Johnson at his residence that same day but were unsuccessful.

On April 7, 2011, SCSO Detective Richard Kindle texted Johnson that he was a 15-year-old female Sullivan South student. In subsequent texts, Johnson allegedly made several explicit comments, suggesting sexual activities they could perform together and stating that they “might just end up” having sex.

Kindle arranged to meet Johnson at 8 a.m. on April 8, 2011, at Quality Car Wash on Moreland Drive. Johnson allegedly stated he would be “in a little black car” and that he had “weed and pills” at his residence.

Kindle, SCSO Capt. Joey Strickler, Deputy Melissa Marlowe and several other officers went to the area of the car wash that morning. Johnson arrived at approximately 8 a.m. and attempted to speed away when approached by Strickler. Other police units stopped Johnson on Moreland Drive.

At the Sullivan County jail, Johnson allegedly gave a statement admitting he knew the female he was going to meet and take home was 15 years of age.

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