EATON — A hearing on a New Paris man’s petition for judicial release was ordered postponed pending notification of the defendant’s alleged victims and their families in Preble County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, Jan. 20. Judge Stephen R. Bruns presided.
Travis M. Johnson, 23, was convicted of gross sexual imposition, importuning, and disseminating matter harmful to a juvenile in 2016. According to court records, Johnson was sentenced to six years of incarceration with the Ohio Dept. of Rehabilitation and Corrections at that time. He has currently served approximately four years and four months of that sentence.
A memorandum in opposition to Johnson’s release filed by Preble County Assistant Prosecutor Erik Marit states that three relatives under the age of 10 accused Johnson, then 19, of touching them inappropriately and showing them pornography. DNA evidence was reportedly uncovered to support the allegations.
Johnson reportedly confessed to these allegations, as well as other crimes involving the same victims dating back two years and taking place in two other states.
Assistant Prosecutor Gractia Manning was unable to confirm on Wednesday whether the family of the alleged victims in the case had consented to Johnson’s original plea agreement, which called for him to be released into the custody of a community-based correctional facility (CBCF) after four and a half years.
Judge Bruns ordered Johnson’s hearing rescheduled to Friday, Jan. 29 pending victim notification, citing Marsy’s Law.
The law, passed in 2017, guarantees victims of crime the right “to be treated with respect, fairness and dignity throughout the criminal justice process,” to be informed about the rights and services available to them, and to be heard during plea or sentencing hearings which may result in an offender’s release, according to information on the Ohio Supreme Court’s website.
Also in court Wednesday:
Travis C. Gibson, 27, of West Alexandria, was scheduled for sentencing on charges of burglary and theft. Prosecutors alleged that Gibson had failed to cooperate with a court-ordered pre-sentencing investigation, however, citing transportation difficulties that prevented him from meeting with his parole officer.
Judge Bruns revoked Gibson’s bond and ordered him taken into custody by Preble County Sheriff’s Deputies.
“I don’t have any faith that Mr. Gibson will cooperate [with the PSI],” Bruns told Gibson’s attorney, who had asked the court to “indulge him in another opportunity” to speak with his parole officer before leaving the courthouse.
Bruns took Gibson to task for failing to participate in the PSI.
“These investigations are done to give the court more information to render an appropriate disposition,” Bruns said. “You’re only hurting yourself by not cooperating.”
Gibson’s final disposition hearing is currently scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Charles Smith, 25, of Hamilton, was sentenced to three years of community control, a six-month driver’s license suspension, and 20 days in the Preble County Jail (with eight days of credit for time already served) on charges of aggravated possession of drugs and driving while under the influence.
“I had a hard time with this case, because I look at the behavior that’s alleged and I don’t think it justifies a lengthy jail sentence,” Bruns told the defendant before sentence was handed down. “But your probation officer got a vibe that you wouldn’t be very cooperative with community control.”
Smith was also ordered to pay court costs and attorney fees.
“I’m going to tell the probation department to cut you loose after a year if there are no violations,” Bruns said. “I’m going to take you at your word that you’re not a menace to society.”
Brian M. Grubb, 34, was sentenced to three years of community control for failure to comply with the order or signal of a police officer, possession of drugs and drug abuse instruments, and receiving stolen property.
Brian L. McFee, 45, of Meyersdale, PA, was scheduled for sentencing on charges of possession of marijuana. McFee failed to appear for the hearing; his attorney indicated that he’d been arrested in Pennsylvania for parole violation. Judge Bruns ordered a warrant for McFee’s arrest issued.
Reach Anthony Baker at 937-683-4057 or on Facebook @mproperenglish