A Grayville man charged with sexually abusing a juvenile family member has entered a not guilty plea to the allegation. Mark E. Johnson, 50 of Grayville appeared in Edwards County Circuit Court October 18 where he waived formal arraignment on a class-2 felony charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a family member under the age of 18 and entered a not guilty plea. Johnson also waived a preliminary hearing in the case through his court appointed defense attorney. Edwards County Resident Judge Michael Valentine presided at Johnson's October 18 hearing.

Edwards County State's Attorney Eric St. Ledger filed the charge on September 19 through a criminal information based upon an investigation carried out by agents of the Illinois State Police.

Johnson remains in the White County jail at Carmi pending a bond hearing set for November 1 in Edwards County Circuit Court. His current bond is $50,000.

If convicted of the charge as filed, Johnson faces between three and seven years in prison and a fine of not more than $25,000. Under Illinois law, probation is also a possible sentence for a class-2 felony.

Court records in Edwards County reveal that Johnson was charged with sexual abuse in 1999. The alleged victim in that case was said to be between the age of 13-16. In March of 2000, the charge was amended to battery – a Class-A misdemeanor. Johnson plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge and was placed on two years of court supervision and ordered to serve two days of periodic imprisonment.