A city man pled guilty Thursday to sexually assaulting a young boy under the age of 11 in exchange for a prison sentence of 12 years with 20 years of post-release supervision.
Jonathan S. L. Berry, 26, formerly of Pendleton Street, admitted to performing oral sex on the boy last fall. Berry was charged in November with performing sexual acts on three young children: a 2-year-old boy, a four-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy.
Berry pled guilty Thursday to one count of felony, first-degree criminal sexual act as part of the plea bargain; the charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 25 years and 20 years of post-release supervision. Berry’s brother and sister-in-law are also facing unrelated child sex abuse charges, but are being prosecuted in federal court.
Campbell warned Berry he could face civil confinement, such as forced residence in a state psychiatric facility or especially strict parole supervision in the community, after he completes his prison sentence. Civil confinement would continue indefinitely until the state Mental Health Office or the court determines Berry is no longer a threat to others, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services. To qualify for civil confinement, Berry would have to be diagnosed with a “mental abnormality” that predisposes them to sex crimes and urges that are especially difficult to control, according to the division.
While civil confinement is a possibility, less than 3 percent of sex offenders are forwarded to civil management proceedings, the division notes.
Campbell noted she cannot know if Berry will qualify. “I do not have a crystal ball,” she told Berry. “I cannot predict what will happen in the future.”
City police arrested Berry in November after an investigation sparked by a disturbance at a Pendleton home, according to The Cortland Voice archives.
Police responding to the home determined Berry had pushed a 32-year-old woman down a flight of stairs, punched her television and threw it out a window, according to the Cortland Police Department. The woman told responding officers that she suspected Berry of abusing three children they were acquainted with, said Lt. Michael Strangeway in December.
Berry was originally charged with eight felonies: three counts of first-degree sexual abuse for engaging in sexual contact with a person under the age of 11, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse for engaging in sexual contact with a person under the age of 13 when the actor is over the age of 21, one count of first-degree criminal sex act against a person younger than 11 and one count of first-degree criminal sex act against a person younger than 13 when the actor is over the age of 18. Berry was also charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.
Berry’s brother and sister-in-law, Lawrence Berry and Brittany Berry, are also facing child sex abuse charges in federal court for creating pornography using a three-year-old in August and September 2018, according to the Department of Justice. Brittany Berry sent a video and a picture to Lawrence Berry of the abuse over the internet, the DOJ stated in a press release.
Brittany Berry pled guilty in October in federal court to one count of conspiracy to sexually exploit a child and five counts of sexual exploitation of a child, according to the DOJ. Berry faces a minimum sentence of 15 years and up to 30 years in prison on each of the six counts of conviction.
Lawrence Berry was also federally charged with conspiring to create child pornography, the DOJ stated. Both federal cases are still pending.