Jeffrey Johnson leaves the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse Mar. 12, 2010

Paul Wellman

Jeffrey Johnson leaves the Santa Barbara Superior Courthouse Mar. 12, 2010

Johnson Pleads No Contest to Sex Abuse Charges

Will Receive Three-Year Prison Sentence; Must Register as Sex Offender

A Mountain Drive man pleaded no contest to crimes Friday morning that will put him in state prison for over two-and-a-half years and require him to register as a sex offender for the remainder of his life.

Instead of going through a preliminary hearing on Wednesday — where details of the allegations Jeffrey Johnson faced would begin to emerge — Johnson pleaded no contest on Friday to two counts of unlawful genital penetration with a foreign object of a child under the age of 14.

He received three years in state prison for each count, to be served concurrently, and has to register as a sex offender. “His life is going to change dramatically,” prosecutor Ron Zonen said after Friday’s hearing. Zonen said he was content with the outcome and pleased the two young victims didn’t have to be in court for a trial or preliminary hearing.

Ron Zonen
Click to enlarge photo

Paul Wellman (file)

Ron Zonen

The counts, which both are strikes under California’s three strikes law, relate to acts committed against two sisters — both between the ages of seven and 10 — in November 2009. Authorities suspected the sexual abuse had been ongoing for three years.

If Johnson, 58 years old at the time of his arrest, had gone to trial and been convicted on the charges he was facing — two counts of continued abuse of a child — he could’ve received 10 years in prison. “He did the stand-up thing and acknowledged what he did,” Zonen said, noting that a lot of his neighbors, for a period of time, didn’t believe the two victims were telling the truth.

Indeed, the courtroom was fairly full with a group supporting Johnson. In the weeks following his arrest, many came to his support, saying they had known him for many years to be a respected man who they trusted with children.

Johnson left the courthouse out a back door, and his attorney Sam Eaton was not immediately available for comment.

Johnson will be back in court June 2, when he will receive his sentence and be remanded into custody.

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