The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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May 13, 2014

Northern Cambria man escapes prison time despite sentencing

EBENSBURG — A Northern Cambria man who admitted to forcing a woman to have sex was sentenced to six to 23 months in the Cambria County Prison and was ordered to have no contact, direct or indirect, with the victim.

But Clarence Johnson was then immediately furloughed from the prison portion of the sentence and allowed to go free.

Cambria County Judge Timothy Creany said the sentence was below the state sentencing guidelines, especially in light of a criminal record dating back nearly a decade, but going to jail meant Johnson would lose his job.

Johnson, 38, of the 3000 block of Route 403 Highway, is employed by a well-drilling company that works in many parts of Pennsylvania as well as surrounding states, defense attorney Kenneth Sottile said.

“If he’s in jail he loses his job, and he pays child support,” Sottile told the judge.

Johnson initially was charged by Northern Cambria police with rape and related charges in June 2011. The rape charge was later dropped. In April, Johnson pleaded guilty to recklessly endangering another person.

Sottile termed the incident as a breakdown in communication between Johnson and the victim.

“In a sense it was more a failure to communicate if she wanted to have sex,” Sottile said. “It makes for a very difficult situation.”

About eight years ago, Johnson was working as a corrections officer at the former State Correctional Institution-Cresson. He was caught smuggling drugs into the Cresson Township facility.

He entered a guilty plea in 2007 and spent two years behind bars.

The victim, who was present in the courtroom Tuesday, chose not to speak, but requested through Cambria County First Assistant District Attorney Heath Long that Johnson have no contact with her.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at


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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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