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AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — An airman assigned to the 603rd Air Control Squadron was sentenced to more than two years in prison in a general court-martial Thursday after pleading guilty to a series of sex offenses.

Judge (Maj.) Jennifer Cline sentenced Senior Airman Jason Johnson to 28 months in prison, a reduction in rank to E-1 and a bad-conduct discharge. His sentence was then reduced because of a pretrial agreement.

Johnson, married to another enlisted airman based in Aviano, admitted to carrying out an adulterous affair with another airman in 2005 and having sex with a 14-year-old girl in 2006.

He had faced a maximum sentence of 29 years in prison, loss of all pay and benefits, a dishonorable discharge and a potential fine.

The prosecutor, Capt. Tyson Kindness, argued for a sentence of 30 months, saying Johnson had been administratively punished previously for another adulterous affair.

“One word sums up the nature of this case,” he said: “manipulation.”

There were no witnesses during the main portion of the trial, which consisted mostly of Cline reading out loud an 11-page stipulation of fact that Johnson had agreed to as part of the pretrial agreement. In it, he described his relationships with the two females and admitted that he was still married to his wife.

Johnson said be began the first relationship while his wife was deployed to Iraq. The couple’s infant son was staying with relatives in the States, and he had moved into an apartment off base with two single airmen. He said neither his roommates nor the airman he began dating knew he was married.

When she stated she wanted to wait to have sex until she was married, he presented her with an engagement ring. The two had sex, and she was living with him in his apartment until her supervisor — who knew Johnson was married — saw them together. Johnson altered a dissolution- of-marriage form he found on the Internet in an attempt to convince the woman and his superiors that he no longer was married. Kindness said that Johnson’s chain of command couldn’t determine whether the document was legitimate, but ordered the end of the relationship.

Johnson and his wife coached a youth sports team the next summer. One of the players was the 14-year-old. She and Johnson met again after the season ended at an event sponsored for teens on base. Johnson was there as a chaperone. The 22-year-old told the teen he really wasn’t married, because he and his wife had exchanged vows in a Cherokee ceremony that wasn’t recognized by the military.

They met again repeatedly over the next several nights, with Johnson fondling the teen in his car each time. They engaged in sexual intercourse a few nights later. The relationship was discovered when the teen’s mother found out about a gift Johnson had left for the girl at school.

The teen and her parents testified during the sentencing portion of the trial, painting a picture of a family torn apart by the incident. Her father, a senior noncommissioned officer at Aviano, said his work performance has suffered and his health has deteriorated. He is undergoing medical care and all three family members are seeing counselors.

Capt. Drew Roberts, Johnson’s defense attorney, said his client deserved to be punished, but argued against a punitive discharge, saying that his client already would carry the stigma of being a registered sex offender and that he had saved the family pain — and the government thousands of dollars — by entering a guilty plea.

Migrated
Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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