DENVER — The known sex offender who's suspected of pulling a woman into the bushes just off the South Platte River Trail and sexually assaulting her last July pleaded guilty to three unrelated counts in connection with two separate incidents in Denver.

Johnny Dewayne Harris, 49, was charged with 16 offenses for a pair of attacks in Denver that happened on back-to-back days in March 2018. As part of a plea deal, 13 charges were dismissed by the district attorney and Harris pleaded guilty to three charges, according to court records.

He pleaded guilty to the following charges in May of this year:

  • 1 count assault with a deadly weapon, with serious bodily injury
  • 2 counts attempted sexual assault

He was sentenced on June 28 to 25 years in prison, a release from the district attorney's office said.

On March 27, 2018, he walked into a bookstore on Broadway and assaulted an employee while holding her at knifepoint, the Denver District Attorney's office said.

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A prior booking photo of Johnny Harris.
Denver Police Department

That woman was able to fight him off and sustained a cut to her hand in the process, according to an arrest affidavit.

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Harris was also the suspect in another assault that happened the day before, on March 26, 2018.

According to the affidavit, police officers found the victim in this case at a convenience store on South Federal Boulevard at around 1:20 a.m. She had a bloody nose, black eyes and cuts on her face.

The woman told police she had been at 20th and Arapahoe streets and was on the phone asking for a ride when a man overheard her and offered to take her home. The woman told police she agreed and got into his car.

south platte trail sex assault

Harris was on the run from Denver police until his arrest in connection to another case, from Littleton, in July 2018.

Harris also faces sexual assault and kidnapping charges for that assault, which happened on July 25, 2018 next to the South Platte River at Reynolds Landing north of Breckenridge Brewery at around 7:20 a.m.  A pretrial hearing for the case is set for September.

RELATED: Known sex offender wanted out of Denver arrested after woman sexually assaulted in Littleton

According to an affidavit, Harris told police that he attacked the victim by placing a rope around her throat and dragging her into the bushes. The victim, 29-year-old Vanessa Ursini, wrote a Facebook post describing her ordeal.

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Harris admitted to sexually assaulting her and said that as she fought him off, she knocked off his glasses and he couldn't see, according to the affidavit.

While he was looking for his glasses, he told police he tied her up, but that she was able to run away, the affidavit says.

RELATED: Denver sexual assault suspect has troubling history

Harris told police that the victim "got free and ran, and he ran, but was caught by police," according to the affidavit.

Harris was previously sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1999 for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Texas and was arrested in Denver in 2016 for exposing himself to a minor and adults.

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