Longtime child sex offender pleads guilty in Red Lion case


It's been nearly a decade since a convicted southern York County child molester caught a lengthy state prison sentence for plying underage girls with alcohol at parties, then having sex with them.

But Winston Anthony Johnson, 31, of West Forrest Avenue in Shrewsbury, preyed on at least one girl again last summer at a party, and police had alleged there was a second victim as well.

York Area Regional Police filed charges against Johnson a year ago on behalf of two girls, both from the Red Lion area.

At the time, the girls were 8 and 13 years old, police said.

The case came to light in late August 2014 when the mother of the 8-year-old called police to report a man had fondled the child, according to court documents.

Detective Donald Hopple Jr. determined the 8-year-old had been taken to a party at a home in Red Lion by her older sister, and that it was at that August 2014 party that Johnson allegedly fondled her, documents state.

The 8-year-old told authorities Johnson "put his hands up her shirt and down her pants," court documents state.

Hopple then spoke to the 13-year-old, who said she also was at a house party Johnson attended in August 2014, police said.

'Blacked out': The girl told Hopple she was drinking and must have "blacked out" after lying down on a bed. She said that when she woke up Johnson was lying beside her and her pants were off, documents state.

"She told me that she figured he had sex with her but didn't really know," Hopple wrote in court documents. "She then told me that he ... had sexual intercourse two other times with her at her friend's house."

The 13-year-old said she and Johnson engaged in oral sex before he had sex with her, police said.

"She said she tried to push him off of her and told him to stop because it hurt, and he told her that he was not done yet and refused to get off of her and stop," Hopple wrote.

On Tuesday, Winston pleaded guilty in York County Court to the first-degree felonies of statutory sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, in exchange for a time-served sentence of 263 days to 23 months in prison, plus a decade of consecutive probation, according to court records. The charges were filed on behalf of the 13-year-old, records state.

Joshua Neiderhiser, Johnson's public defender, declined comment.

Acquitted twice: A jury on May 22 acquitted Johnson of charges including unlawful contact with a minor and indecent assault of a child less than 13, court records state. Those charges were filed on behalf of the 8-year-old.

On May 1, a different jury acquitted him of failing to properly register as a sexual offender with state police. His 2006 guilty plea for plying underage girls with alcohol and having sex with them requires him to register with the state as a sexual offender for the rest of his life, according to senior deputy prosecutor Sarah Buhite.

Johnson's probation for his latest guilty plea means he will be subject to sex-offender probation conditions for more than a decade.

"Sex-offender conditions are rigorous," according to Buhite, and include special conditions tailored to sex offenders and, in some cases, heightened supervision.

The prosecutor acknowledged Johnson's 263-day sentence deviated from standard sentencing guidelines, but it was approved by the victim's guardian.

"In these types of cases it's important to balance the pursuit of justice with the needs of victims — and the impact on victims, especially when they're of a tender age," Buhite said.

Skateboard attack: The party where the girls said they were sexually assaulted was at the former South Main Street home of Danny Graffius, according to court documents, which state Graffius and Johnson are "known associates."

Graffius, 19, remains free on bail, charged in an Aug. 22, 2014, attack in Red Lion that left a man with serious injuries and brain damage.

Police said he repeatedly punched Guy Verdinelli in the head after co-defendant Devin Flaharty, 19, of Windsor Township, struck Verdinelli in the back of the head with a skateboard.

The 39-year-old Verdinelli was knocked unconscious, police said.

Decade-old case: In 2006, Johnson pleaded guilty to charges including sexual assault and indecent assault and was sentenced to four to eight years in state prison. Police said he gave three underage girls alcohol, then sexually assaulted them.

He tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his guilty plea days later, which led to a public hearing in which his former defense attorney, Frank Arcuri, testified Johnson admitted to having sex with children.

"From early on, he acknowledged ... he did have sex with these girls," Arcuri said. "He didn't think he did anything wrong."

Johnson was angry at the length of his sentence, Arcuri testified at the time, and had repeatedly insisted he was only willing to serve two to four years in prison, even though he faced a maximum possible sentence of 152 years.

Co-defendant Patrick Dent pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to four to eight years in prison.

Dent made news again last year when his violent attempt to mug a woman in Glen Rock was thwarted by two good Samaritans who police said gave him an "attitude adjustment" and held him at the scene until officers arrived and arrested him.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.