Thursday, November 02, 2000

Parole board reverses decision to free rapist

By Dan Horn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Ohio Parole Board bowed to public pressure Wednesday when it reversed a decision to free a man convicted of raping a woman in Clifton in 1980.

        The board's decision came hours after Hamilton County prosecutors mounted a massive media campaign about the upcoming parole of Danny R. Johnson.

        Mr. Johnson, 45, was supposed to be freed in December after serving 20 years for raping one Clifton woman at knifepoint and trying to rape another.

        Prosecutor Mike Allen, along with one of Mr. Johnson's victims, had complained that Mr. Johnson was granted parole even though he declared in court last year that he would disobey Ohio's sex-offender law.

        At a hearing in Common Pleas Court in July 1999, Mr. Johnson said he would not follow a law that requires sex offenders to report their address to police every 90 days.

        “I'll never submit to that,” Mr. Johnson said.

        “Failure to do that will result in prosecution,” warned Judge Robert Ruehlman.

        “Then I'll be prosecuted.”

        After a heated exchange, Judge Ruehlman told Mr. Johnson he was a danger to society. “I hope you don't get out,” the judge said, “until you reach room temperature.”

        Mr. Allen said he sent a transcript of the court hearing to the parole board, hoping Mr. Johnson's defiance would keep him in prison. But the board scheduled Mr. Johnson for release.

        Board members changed their minds Wednesday after they were flooded with calls from the news media about Mr. Allen's opposition to the board's decision.

        Mr. Allen commended the parole board for reversing its decision.“It's the right thing to do,” he said.

        Board spokesman Joe Andrews said Mr. Johnson would be scheduled for a new parole hearing next year.

        Mr. Johnson is serving a 12- to 40-year sentence for rape, attempted rape and aggravated burglary.

        The rape victim, now 46, said Mr. Johnson stalked her for more than a year before attacking her. After his arrest, she said, Mr. Johnson sent her a letter threatening to harm her and anyone else who helped send him to prison.

        “I'm scared,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified.


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