Public Safety

Pantsless man who forced his way into Cedar Rapids woman's apartment sentenced to 10 years

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman asked a judge Friday to sentence a man, who was partially naked and forced his way into her apartment in 2017, to prison time for the safety of her daughter and granddaughters, as well as the entire community.

“My hope is that I can have my daughter and granddaughters visit (in my apartment building) without fear,” Stephanie Mohr, 65, said in a victim impact statement during a sentencing hearing for Neal C. Johnson, 54, of Cedar Rapids. “Since this occurrence, I have had increased anxiety, and I worry constantly about my daughter and granddaughters becoming future victims of Johnson.”

Johnson, who lived in Mohr’s apartment building in northwest Cedar Rapids, was convicted by a jury in July of second-degree burglary following a two-day trial.

Testimony showed Johnson, who wasn’t wearing pants, forced his way into the woman’s apartment with the intent to commit sexual assault on Dec. 2, 2017.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Paul Miller sentenced Johnson to 10 years in prison. He also will have to be on the Iowa Sex Offender Registry for 10 years. The conviction is considered a predatory offense, which would enhance penalty or prison time on a future related offense, according to court documents.

Mohr, in her statement, said it was “such a huge relief” when she got the call about the guilty verdict. She remembered being so “incredibly nervous” to testify but knew it was important to be “clearheaded and answer truthfully.”

Afterward, she felt as if she might fall down the steps, but then she saw a victim/witness coordinator from the Linn County Attorney’s Office smiling at her as the police officer, who’d come to her apartment after the incident, led her to a seat in the courtroom gallery. Both gave her comfort, she said.

Mohr told the judge she thought Johnson needed “psychiatric help” and “needed to be removed from society because he is dangerous.”

Johnson, during the hearing, maintained his innocence, as he did during trial. He also asked the judge for probation, instead of prison time.

During trial, Mohr said 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. 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 vulgar 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.

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 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

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