The sentence exceeded the prosecution's recommendation.
By DEBORA SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A 34-year-old man who has fathered 19 children has been sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping a teenage girl he knew.
Rommie L. Johnson, of East Lucius Avenue, told Judge James C. Evans of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that he and the girl had consensual sex. She was the daughter of a friend of Johnson's, said his attorney, John J. Dixon.
Dixon asked Judge Evans to postpone sentencing Tuesday because he recently learned the victim's age was in question at the time of the sex act. The girl was identified as a 15-year-old but may have been 16 which, coupled with a lack of force, lessens the seriousness of the crime, Dixon argued.
Judge Evans overruled that motion, saying he recited the girl's date of birth while reading aloud Johnson's six-count indictment in previous court proceedings.
Judge Evans also quoted Johnson's own words in a pre-sentence investigation report by the Adult Parole Authority. Johnson told an investigator that he had sex with two underage girls and that it was wrong.
At his age, and with so many children of his own, Johnson has a good idea of how old children appear to be, Judge Evans said.
As part of a plea agreement that was negotiated in January, Johnson pleaded guilty to four of the six rape counts and agreed to be labeled as a sexual predator. In exchange, prosecuting attorneys agreed to dismiss the other two rape counts from Johnson's 2005 case and a separate 2004 case, in which Johnson had been charged with two counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition.
Judge Evans sentenced Johnson to consecutive four-year prison terms on each conviction. That was more than the 13-year prison term that the prosecution recommended. The maximum sentence would have been 40 years and $80,000 in fines.
Johnson was worried about what would happen to his children while he was in prison. His grandmother, who was helping him to rear some of the kids, recently died. "Right now my kids need me," he said.
Johnson will receive credit for 620 days, or nearly 21 months of time already served in Mahoning County Jail. Once he is released from prison, he will have to register with the sheriff in the county where he lives every 90 days for the rest of his life, Judge Evans said.