Convicted sex offender refused deal, found hope

Larry Johnson's sexual assault case was resolved in 1998, but not soon forgotten in New London Superior Court.

Accused of forcing a substance abuse counselor to have sex, Johnson refused to accept the state's offer to "nolle," or not prosecute, the case, and went to trial.

Johnson claimed he was in a consensual relationship with the counselor. The state's case against him was not rock solid, but a jury convicted him. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison and registry as a sexual offender.

Johnson, 53, of Norwalk, called me this spring after reading a story in which I referenced the case. I wrote that the prosecutor and defense attorney still laugh about the fact that he refused a "nolle" and ended up with a stiff prison sentence.

Johnson said he refused the nolle as a matter of principle.

He wanted me to know his life is no joke, and after reading through a thick packet of materials he sent, I concede he is a serious man.

Released from prison in 2003, Johnson set about getting his life together and helping others. He says he runs his own janitorial service, is happily married and takes care of his elderly mother.

He created a program called "Character under Construction" to help men who are released from prison find work. He also created "Shoot Hoops, Not Guns," a basketball program for teens. He is well respected in his church and by many in his community. He has the letters and news clips to prove it.

He is working on getting a pardon and getting his name off the sex offender registry, but so far has struck out.

He did get permission two years ago to return to the prisons and work with convicts.

"I have to go back in," he said. "Some of the guys who were doing 45 and 90 years are still there. They have to know there's hope."

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