ST. GEORGE — A local man accused of beating and robbing a woman during an attempted sexual assault over the weekend is being held without bail after he was located near the scene and arrested later that evening.

File photo for illustrative purposes only of a St. George Police cruiser in St. George, Utah, Aug. 10, 2023 | Photo by Alysha Lundgren, St. George News

Officers responded shortly before 8 p.m. Friday to a report involving a possible assault that had taken place near one of the stores at a shopping center on River Road. 

According to charging documents filed in support of the arrest, while officers were responding, investigators also were dispatched to St. George Regional Hospital to follow up with the victim who had reportedly been knocked unconscious and sexually assaulted. 

Investigators learned that earlier that evening, the injured party was smoking a cigarette behind one of the rehabilitation centers off River Road when she was approached by the suspect who asked her for a cigarette. 

When she bent down to retrieve one, she said, the suspect hit her on the back of the head, knocking her out. When she awoke, she said the man was covering her mouth as he choked her from behind and said he was going to kill her.  

During the assault, she said she reached around and grabbed the glasses off of the suspect’s face and “attempted to gouge his eyes with her thumbs” before she lost consciousness.

The next thing the complainant said she remembered was the suspect attempting to physically assault her — an attempt that was interrupted by the victim’s dogs which started to attack him. 

The suspect ran off with all of her cash, she said, which was more than $180, and also left with her cell phone. 

The suspect was described as 5-foot-10 with brown hair and was wearing a blue flannel shirt, black pants and glasses.

At the hospital, officers found the complainant’s account of the attack to be consistent with her injuries, evidenced by the “goose egg” bump still visible to officers and indicative of being struck on the head. They also noticed redness across the victim’s neck and a laceration on the bridge of the victim’s nose.  

Meanwhile, a man matching the suspect’s description was located by officers during a canvass of the area, and he was later identified as Robert Lee Johnson, 42, of St. George. Officers noted the suspect’s physical and clothing description matched what the complainant had provided, down to his glasses, which were broken and appeared to have been fixed with tape. He was also found with a cell phone in a pink and purple case with a butterfly pop socket on it, just as the complainant described. 

After a short scuffle with police, Johnson was arrested and transported to jail in Washington County facing multiple charges, including aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, along with aggravated assault and rape — each a second-degree felony. He also faces two misdemeanor charges for failing to stop at command of police and interfering with an arrest. 

During the booking process, deputies noticed a large scratch across the suspect’s back and other small marks around his right eye that “appeared to be fresh.” 

Following the arrest, the officer requested that Johnson be held without bail, based on the vulnerability of the victim who was subjected to “several aggravated crimes” during the attack, the officer noted.  

The request was approved by a no-bail order that was signed by District Judge Jay Winward the following day. The suspect remains in custody without bail at this time.

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