Repeat sex offender found guilty of attempted rape on South Platte River Trail

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LITTLETON, Colo. — A repeat sex offender was found guilty Thursday on all charges related to the attack and sexual assault of a woman on the South Platte River Trail in July 2018.

Johnny Harris Jr. was found guilty following a three-day trial. He’s facing between 16 and 128 years in prison.

On July 25, 2018, Vanessa Ursini was walking her dog on the Platte River Trail when she says Harris Jr. grabbed her and tied her up with a rope.

A few days later, she recounted the attack. 

“He tried to rape me, kill me, and I got away,” said Ursini. “He was trying to look for his glasses, I untied the knot and ran along this path to the very populated bike path.”

Bystanders were able to follow Harris Jr., who was charged with:

  • One count of first-degree kidnapping
  • One count of attempted sexual assault with a deadly weapon
  • One count of attempted sexual assault – serious bodily injury
  • One count of attempted sexual assault – use of force/violence
  • One count of first-degree assault – strangulation
  • One count of unlawful sexual contact
  • Two sentence enhancements for violent crime

Ursini offered emotional testimony during the trial.

“I held the ropes in my hands that he used to strangle the life out of me because I knew it was important to put him in his place and get the justice I deserve,” she said.

The jury found Harris Jr. guilty on all counts.

“It helps give a voice to so many woman who can’t speak about what’s happened to them,” she said. “Today gives me relief in the sense that I don’t have to worry whether a jury will perceive him as guilty or not. He is guilty.”

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