Drummer of rock band Alabama Shakes arrested on child abuse charges

A member of an award-winning rock band is facing significant trouble after he was arrested last week on charges related to child abuse, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Steven William Johnson, drummer for the Grammy Award-winning rock band Alabama Shakes, was taken into custody last Wednesday following an indictment for alleged willful torture, willful abuse, and cruelly beating or otherwise willfully maltreating a child under the age of 18.

Johnson was reportedly booked into the Limestone County Jail with a bond set at $21,500, and faces an arraignment hearing scheduled for April 7.

Johnson’s attorneys insisted he is innocent of the charges against him and asserted that the charges are actually related to a matter that had already been litigated and settled in court previously, according to AL.com.

“Maintains his innocence”

“Mr. Johnson maintains his innocence,” said one of his attorneys, Marcus Helstowski. “We believe this was a matter that was fully litigated at the district court level in Limestone County and was dismissed by the prosecutor at that time.”

“We do not believe, and have been presented no evidence, that Mr. Johnson has willfully abused or tortured any child, and he maintains his innocence,” the attorney continued.

The outlet noted that the drummer’s attorneys have filed a motion claiming that Johnson’s Sixth Amendment rights have been violated, in that he has not been made aware of the specific nature of the charges filed against him, and lamented that the vagueness of the charges has resulted in “wild speculation” by the media.

“In terms of the word ‘torture,’ that’s the word that people have been throwing around left and right,” attorney Nick Lough said. “We’ve seen some of the headlines. If we’re talking about a spanking incident, this had absolutely nothing to do with torture. When people hear that word, their minds run wild. If we’re talking about a spanking incident, that’s not torture.”

Lough also decried the fact that the indictment, which he claimed was actually filed in October, was only unsealed recently, just days after Johnson had his parental rights restored, and questioned why it took so long for law enforcement and prosecutors to act on the matter.

Domestic violence accusations

This is not Johnson’s first run-in with the law. In March 2020, he pleaded guilty to charges that he had violated a domestic violence protection order filed against him by his ex-wife, Variety reported. That guilty plea resulted in a one-year suspended jail sentence and two years of probation.

That guilty plea stemmed from an arrest in September 2019, according to a report at that time from local media outlet WHNT, for violating the protection order that had been obtained by his ex-wife in March of that year over allegations that he had harassed and threatened her, including breaking into her home, choking her and stalking her.

Variety noted that the arrest should have little impact on Johnson’s band, which first formed in 2009 and won Grammy Awards in 2013 and 2015, as Alabama Shakes has been on hiatus since 2018 while the lead singer, Brittany Howard, pursues a solo career.

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