Public Safety

Jury convicts Cedar Rapids man who was naked and forced his way into woman's home

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man, who wasn’t wearing any pants when he forced his way into a woman’s apartment after making a vulgar sexual comment in 2017, was convicted by a Linn County jury Tuesday.

Neal Johnson, 53, was found guilty of second-degree burglary following a two-day trial.

Johnson forced his way into a 63-year-old woman’s apartment, who lived in Johnson’s apartment building at 85 Harbet Ave. NW., with the intent to commit sexual assault on Dec. 2, 2017, according to trial testimony.

The jury deliberated less than three hours.

Johnson faces up to 10 years in prison. Sentencing will be set later.

The only witness for the defense was Johnson’s girlfriend, Savannah Rote, 35, who lived with him in 2017. She said Johnson was home most of the day Dec. 2, except for about five or 10 minutes.

Rote said Johnson was wearing a green shirt and khaki shorts and left fully clothed and returned dressed the same way.

call from jail

Assistant Linn County Attorney Jordan Schier asked Rote about phone calls Johnson made to her from jail after he was arrested.

Schier asked if Johnson told her what to say about him being gone that day — that she had locked him out.

Rote denied it.

“He didn’t say it was your fault he was in jail or belittle you,” Schier said.

Rote said no.

Schier then played an audio recording of the jail house call from Dec. 3, 2017.

Johnson, in the call, blames Rote for what happened. He said he wanted her to say that she locked him out that day.

Rote said she didn’t remember that call.

Stephanie Mohr, now 65, testified Monday that she had left her door unlocked for a friend in the building, who was going to come over but instead, Johnson, who she knew as “Bo,” knocked at her door, mumbling something. She opened her door to ask what he wanted, and he started pushing on the door. She said she pushed back, trying to keep him out.

Johnson made a sexual comment and then got inside the doorway, she said. She started screaming. Johnson pushed his way in a couple of feet past the threshold and that's when she realized he was naked from the waist down.

“I was stunned … I was shocked,” she said.

After she started screaming, Johnson ran off, she said, adding she didn’t know why he came to her door.

She said she didn’t know Johnson, other than to say “hello” to him and sometimes his girlfriend when they passed in the hallway.

past convictions

Johnson has previous convictions for indecent exposure, assault and harassment, according to court documents.

In 2012, Johnson pleaded to an assault charge involving a pizza delivery woman he tried to back into his apartment, according to court documents. The woman fought back and he grabbed her by the face and covered her mouth when she started screaming.

During the struggle, another woman, identified later as Rote, walked out of Johnson’s apartment, naked and didn’t do anything to help the pizza delivery woman, who got away and called police.

In 2014, Johnson was convicted of third-degree harassment after a woman said she saw Johnson naked and touching himself in the elevator when she was visiting her friend in the same complex where Johnson lived, according to court documents. Johnson tried to reach for her and wanted her to get on the elevator, but she started screaming and ran away. A prosecutor, in court documents, said the woman was convinced Johnson was going to sexually assault her.

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.