The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

June 22, 2013

‘Worst nightmare’ gets 10 to 40 years in prison

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

DELAWARE TOWNSHIP — Jonathan M. Root was sentenced Friday to serve 10 to 40 years for raping a preschool boy, but a judge told him that, unless he comes clean, he can expect to serve all 40.

“You, sir are the community’s worst nightmare,” Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts told Root, 28, formerly of Delaware Township.

When first questioned by state police, Root denied the boy’s story that Root performed sex acts on him and forced the boy to perform sex acts on Root, the judge said.

Then, Root admitted one instance, Yeatts said.

When interviewed for his presentence report, Root told the investigator he had blackouts and does not remember molesting the boy, Yeatts said, adding that Root never told police about blackouts.

Yeatts said he watched the video of the forensic interview with the child, now 6, and found him to be funny, smart and totally truthful.

“All I can say is I’m sorry,” said Root. “I can’t get into a time machine and go back in time because there ain’t one. If I could go back, I would.”

Then, Root lashed out at people who wouldn’t give him credit for the good things he had done in life, like being the first in his family to graduate from high school, and helping people.

He also said that he tried to get help but was turned away, claiming a local hospital told him there was nothing wrong with him when he told medical personnel he had tried to commit suicide.

Yeatts responded that Root had the benefit of five psychiatric commitments to hospitals, ongoing mental health treatment, juvenile detention and probation and parole supervisions, much of which appears to have failed.

“You seem to be immune to rehabilitation,” Yeatts said.

He also knew the harm he could cause to the boy because Root was a victim of sexual abuse when he was a child, Yeatts said.

“You knew your conduct was wrong but you did it anyway,” Yeatts said. “You’re a victim yourself, you know what impact that had on you, and you did it anyway.”

In his victim impact statement, the boy reported being mad and scared, and called Root “big meany Johnny.”

“He’s a beautiful little boy,” the child’s father said. “He’s got a life sentence. I just want him to have a normal life.”

“As far as I’m concerned, this monster, Jonathan Root, should be sentenced to the maximum allowed by law,” said the victim’s great aunt, who called rape the “murder of a child’s soul.”

Root pleaded guilty to rape of a child. The conviction was Root’s third for sex offenses.

At age 12, he was adjudicated delinquent on a charge of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse for coercing a 7-year-old boy to perform oral sex on him in exchange for a skateboard, said Molly M. Wagner, a member of the Sexual Offenders Assessment Board.

He pleaded guilty at age 19 to a charge of indecent assault for his actions with two 13-year-old girls, a crime he said Friday he did not commit.

Root, a father of two children, had nonsexual convictions on his juvenile and adult records, including charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

Yeatts deemed Root a sexually violent predator, making him subject to more stringent counseling and reporting requirements under Megan’s Law.