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WEST CHESTER — A Common Pleas Court judge overseeing the case of a Chester County man who allegedly assaulted his girlfriend regularly during their one-year-long relationship had a message for the victim and sent a warning to the defendant on Monday.

“Whatever it is that is going on in your mind, this is not love,” Judge Jeffrey Somer told the woman, who indicated in court that she was wavering about continuing to have contact with her boyfriend, Jason Rich Johnson. “I don’t know what it is, but it is not love.”

The judge said he wished the woman, who appeared at the proceeding and said she would leave it up to him to decide whether Johnson would be able to see her in the future, “would leave him in the rearview mirror.” But he said it was out of his control whether the two would reestablish their relationship in the future, as some couples do after incidents involving domestic violence. “I don’t have that authority.”

Sommer, who accepted a guilty plea from Johnson ahead of a scheduled trial for which a jury was to be chosen Monday, said he had read the arrest affidavit that laid out what had occurred between Johnson and the woman in 2019 and found it “frightening.”

Including the assault the 47-year-old Johnson committed that night at the Modena house the two shared, police said there were indications that he had regularly beat the woman, including multiple bruises on her body and statements from a witness who told them they could hear the couple arguing “at all hours of the day.”

“This behavior is abhorrent to the community,” Sommer told Johnson, who stood before him for the plea proceeding, shrugging his shoulders when asked if he had anything to say for himself. “There is never any reason for a man to lay a hand on a woman.”

Sommer said that he would prohibit Johnson from having any contact with the woman until he had completed a court-ordered program for domestic violence offenders. But even after that, should any further assaults occur, Johnson should be ready for a severe reaction, the judge said.

“The judges in this county do keep files” on old cases, he said. “If there is even a sniff that you have violated this sentence, you will be in a state correctional facility before the sun goes down.”

On the charge of simple assault, Johnson was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation. In addition to the domestic violence program, he was also ordered to get a drug and alcohol evaluation and a mental health screening.

According to South Coatesville Officer Adam Sibley, he was called to a home on North Brandywine Avenue in Modena around midnight on Sept. 29, 2019, for reports of a domestic disturbance.

He interviewed the woman, who had visible injuries to her face, who said that she and Johnson had been living together for about a year. That evening, they began arguing over the woman’s phone, and Johnson slapped her. When she tried to leave, tackled her in a bedroom, punched her, followed her outside, and jumped on her car to try to keep her from driving away. He eventually fled the scene after neighbors came out of their homes to confront him.

Sibley wrote in his affidavit that in speaking with the woman, he could see significant bruising all over her body, which she indicated had come from previous assaults.

In addressing the judge, the woman said that she hoped Johnson would get treatment for his anger and that he would keep from assaulting others. For his part, however, Johnson did not offer a direct apology in court, although he was ordered to write one to the woman, and said simply that the incident, “had gotten out of hand.”

As the woman left the courtroom while Johnson sat and watched, Sommer said goodbye. “I wish you well,” he said. “I wish you strength.”

To contact staff writer Michael P. Rellahan. Call 610-696-1544.

To contact Staff Writer Michael P. Rellahan call 610-696-1544.

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