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Dermatologist bails himself out of jail

A former Coupeville dermatologist accused of domestic violence is free this week after spending two months in jail, according to court documents.

Donald “Russell” Johnson has pleaded not guilty in Island County Superior Court to two counts of assault in the second degree and a single count of “harassment / threats to kill.” Both were charged as domestic-violence-related crimes.

Johnson had been held in jail without bail because he violated a court order by sending an email to the alleged victim.

But Johnson’s Bellingham attorney, Jeffrey Lustick, convinced Judge Vickie Churchill to change his release conditions at a Dec. 5 hearing. In a court declaration, Johnson agreed to electronic home monitoring and apologized for violating the court order.

“My roots in this community run deep and I have nowhere else to reside,” Johnson wrote. “I intend to strongly and respectfully defend these charges and do not intend to flee or commit any new offenses.”

The attorney said Johnson plans to obtain a domestic violence evaluation to be used in his defense and also to defend himself against the suspension of his medical license.

Churchill set Johnson’s bail at $100,000, including the $75,000 he previously posted. Johnson posted the remaining $25,000 on Dec. 12 and was freed.

Johnson is accused of choking his girlfriend and threatening to kill her at their Cornet Bay home Sept. 6.

This summer Johnson abruptly closed his popular dermatology clinics and skin-care spas in both Coupeville and Anacortes. His medical license was suspended by the state after he was charged.

 

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