Sex offender lectured by angry judge

Published 10:52 pm Saturday, December 13, 2008

A sex offender who violated his probation got a stern lecture from an angry judge Wednesday in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Josh Johnson, 20, of 157 Township Road 1207, Proctorville, was arrested earlier this year and pleaded guilty to a third-degree misdemeanor charge of gross sexual imposition. He was sentenced to 60 days in the Lawrence County Jail, which was suspended.

He was then placed on two years probation and ordered to serve 90 hours of community service. Because he pleaded guilty to a sexually oriented offense he was required to register as a sexually oriented offender for 15 years.

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Wednesday, he admitted he violated his probation by failing to report to his probation officer as directed, getting into trouble in West Virginia and failing to report his change of address, something required of him because he is a sex offender.

Judges often have little leeway in imposing sentences and by law, Bowling could only sentence Johnson to the 60 days he had already served in jail awaiting resolution of the matter. But Bowling let Johnson know he was hardly amused.

“I am sorely disappointed I don’t have additional time for you,” Bowling said. “I’ve learned a lot about you since March 2008 when this started.”

Bowling acknowledged at the beginning his speech may fall on deaf ears, but Johnson would not walk out of the courtroom without hearing it. Bowling said the choices Johnson has made have been bad choices and he would have preferred to send the young man to jail.

“You missed it by this much,” Bowling said. “…You sorely disappoint me and I’ll tell you, if you don’t change your ways you will be sorely disappointed.”

Two women attended the proceedings and softly applauded the judge’s lecture afterward.

“Thank you, judge,” one woman said as she left the courtroom. “He needed that.”