NYC sex offender with 9 prior arrests accused of beating, raping 81-year-old neighbor in 'despicable' attack

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A New York City registered sex offender with nine prior arrests was apprehended again for allegedly breaking into his 81-year-old Brooklyn neighbor’s apartment and brutalizing the woman. 

Thomas Johnson, 50, is accused of a “particularly despicable crime” against the 81-year-old victim that happened at approximately 1 a.m. on Tuesday in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said at a press conference on Wednesday. 

So far, Johnson – a registered sex offender, risk level 3, which is the “highest level” – has been charged with second-degree assault on a female over 65 years old and strangulation and burglary in connection to the incident, but there may be additional charges in the future, Essig said. 

N.Y. Daily News reported that the victim said she believes Johnson, who is her upstairs neighbor, raped her during the alleged attack, and the results of a rape kit performed on the woman at the hospital are pending.

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New York State Sex Offender Registry photos of Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn, from Aug. 31, 2022. 

New York State Sex Offender Registry photos of Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn, from Aug. 31, 2022. 
(New York State Sex Offender Registry)

“He knows I live here alone. Oh my God, how could he do this?” the woman, whose name was withheld from the report, told the newspaper. “I’m still spitting up blood. He didn’t say a word. He knocked me down on the ground and strangled me. He jammed his fingers down my throat so I couldn’t scream. I was knocked unconscious. I believe he raped me.”

“He didn’t do it to a stranger,” she added. “He knows me.”

At the press conference on Wednesday, Essig said the 81-year-old woman awoke to a noise in her living room, and upon entering her living room, she observed her neighbor in her apartment. 

The suspect began to choke and punch her until she lost consciousness. When she was treated at the local hospital, it was discovered that she had a dislocated jaw and various clothing items were missing. Detectives from the Special Victims Division were quickly able to apprehend Johnson, Essig added.  

New York State Sex Offender Registry photos of Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn, from Aug. 8, 2021; Aug. 17, 2020; and Aug. 19, 2019, from left to right. 

New York State Sex Offender Registry photos of Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn, from Aug. 8, 2021; Aug. 17, 2020; and Aug. 19, 2019, from left to right. 
(New York State Sex Offender Registry)

Detectives returned a search warrant for his apartment and his person. Recovered was a bloody T-shirt and Johnson’s bloody clothing, Essig said. 

Essig detailed Johnson’s nine prior arrests. He pleaded guilty and served one year for sexually abusing a five-year-old girl in August 2006 – that crime for which he became a registered sex offender. 

New York State Sex Offender Registry photos of Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn, from March 14, 2018; Feb. 3, 2016; and July 1, 2014, from left to right. 

New York State Sex Offender Registry photos of Thomas Johnson, of Brooklyn, from March 14, 2018; Feb. 3, 2016; and July 1, 2014, from left to right. 
(New York State Sex Offender Registry)

Johnson was also arrested in August 2021 for strangulation, in March 2003 for an assault, in June 1995 for an attempted murder for which he pleaded guilty to assault, in February 1994 for grand larceny, and three more arrests in January, March and September 1991 for grand larceny and assault, Essig said. 

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Regarding the sexual abuse of a five-year-old and the possible rape of the 81-year-old neighbor, Essig said Johnson is accused of “pretty despicable crime against the kid and the woman.”

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