Florida Keys News - Key West Citizen
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
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Sexual predator sentenced to prison for 15 years

The man former Miami Dolphins football coach Jimmy Johnson trusted to watch over his Islamorada home was sentenced to prison for 15 years after admitting to having sexual contact with a 10-year-old girl in June 2010.

Robert Twist Jr. sat stone-faced in handcuffs Tuesday morning in a Plantation Key courtroom waiting through the calendar for his case to be called. The 62-year-old was sentenced by Judge Luis Garcia to concurrent 15-year terms after pleading guilty to two counts of felony attempted sexual battery.

Before arranging a plea deal, Twist was facing two counts of sexual assault of a minor, which carried a mandatory life sentence. That trial was set to begin February.

With his victim and her family on the phone through a conference call, Twist declined to make any statement before the judge passed sentencing.

The victim, though, and her family, offered a few words to Twist and the court.

"I was angry, and I took it out on other people even though it wasn't their fault," victim advocate Debbie Sheperd read into the record on behalf of the abused girl. "I had flashbacks, which made it hard for me to concentrate at home and in school."

In her statement, the girl said she was scared to go to sleep and faced physical and emotional stress.

"I don't think it was fair for him to do that to me, and it especially wasn't fair that he made me feel like it was my fault," Sheperd read for the girl.

The victim's father then spoke for himself through the phone.

"We're suppose to protect one another, not destroy one another," he said.

After listening to the victims, Garcia then tried to console the family and focused the guilt on Twist.

"It was all Mr. Twist that did the wrong here," Garcia said to the victim over the phone. "You did nothing wrong."

Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne said the victim was prepared to testify this month during a trial, but decided to go along with a plea after defense attorneys were able to get an extension until February.

"After considering the defendant's age, his health and that the victim would not have to relive the horrific event on the witness stand, it was agreed that a term of 15 years in prison as well as being designated as a sexual predator would be an appropriate sentence in this case," Dunne said in a statement.

Twist's case garnered national attention in July 2010 when police were called to the Johnson estate, alerted that Twist may be suicidal. When officers arrived, Twist barricaded himself in a cottage brandishing a pellet rifle and a 5½ hour standoff ensued. Officers at the time believed the gun was real and fired a live round at Twist but missed. They later subdued Twist with a Taser.

In September 2011, a jury found Twist guilty of two counts of assault on a law enforcement officer, both first-degree misdemeanors.

Twist was under investigation for molestation at the time of the stand-off at the Johnson home. Days after this standoff, he was arrested on the molestation charges.

jgore@keysnews.com

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