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Reprimand for judge who hit teenager

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A 7th District Juvenile Court judge who slapped a teenager at the Price courthouse has been privately reprimanded by the Judicial Conduct Commission.

Judge Scott Johansen agreed to the reprimand for "demeaning the judicial office." He also agreed to have the reprimand, ordinarily secret, released to the public.Johansen admitted slapping the face of a 16-year-old boy after the boy's father brought him to the courthouse in Price because he believed his son was stealing. The father, a friend of Johansen's, asked the judge to talk to the teen.

During the conversation, the boy became belligerent and insulting. Johansen knocked the boy's hat off and then slapped his face to stop the behavior, the reprimand states.

"I knew immediately it was the wrong thing to do. This was just a friend of mine who brought his kid over. . . . It was different than if I was acting with the authority of the state, but it was still not the right thing to do," Johansen said after the 1995 incident.

He said it is sometimes difficult wearing two hats in a rural community where a judge is relied on for help both officially and unofficially.

The reprimand released Tuesday constitutes complete and final resolution of the matter by the Conduct Commission.

State court officials said the father of the boy was grateful to Johansen for trying to help his son. The father later decided to press criminal charges against his son.