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Granada High Teacher Arrested on Suspicion of Having Sex With Student

Police arrest Marie Johnson on 24 counts of sexual assault.

A teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of having sex with a former student, police said.

Marie Johnson, 40, of Livermore faces 24 counts of sexual assault on a teen boy. She was arrested without incident on campus, according to court records.

Police received information Tuesday alleging that Johnson was engaging in sexual relations with a boy under 15. Investigators then served a search warrant of Johnson's residence.

The incidents reportedly occurred numerous times during a six-month period, beginning in December 2010 and ending in May of 2011, police said. The relationship was initially formed through the use of text messaging, Facebook, and instant messaging on the online game “Words with Friends.”

Police said the sexual encounters primarily took place inside of Johnson’s vehicle and at other undisclosed locations in Livermore.

The boy, who was 14 at the time of the incidents, is a student at Granada High, Officer Steve Goard said. He is a former student of Johnson — who teaches math — but was not enrolled in her class during the sexual relations, Goard said.

Superintendent Kelly Bowers issued the following statement:

The LVJUSD confirms that a Granada High School teacher was placed on administrative leave by the District and arrested by the Livermore Police Department this morning for alleged inappropriate relations with a minor, pending investigation of the allegations. 

The District and Board of Education, as advocates and safeguards for the students entrusted to us, take our responsibility for student safety while in our charge very seriously.  The District, Board, and site administration and staff are cooperating fully with law enforcement officials, while conducting a simultaneous personnel investigation. As always, while following due process guidelines, if we discover that any adult or staff member has placed a student or students at risk, we take appropriate, swift and decisive action

We are not at liberty to discuss specifics or details, as the alleged victim is a minor and has the right and expectation of privacy and confidentiality.  We do not want to jeopardize the integrity of the investigations. We are not legally allowed to comment on specifics regarding the staff member, as personnel matters must remain confidential by law.

Safety of students is our utmost priority.  Any staff, student, parent or community member who has concerns or information pertinent to these investigations is asked to contact the LPD and/or the GHS site or District Superintendent’s office.

Johnson is being held at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin in lieu of $1.85 million bail. She is scheduled to be arraigned at 11 a.m. Friday in Department 701 of the Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice in Pleasanton. Court records show she is expected to be charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a person under 18, oral copulation and committing a lewd act on a child.

According to anonymous online reviews posted at RateMyTeacher.com, Johnson was fairly popular as a teacher — though some said she was "fun" and "cool" but not focused enough on the subject matter.

"The best teacher I had at Granada, so good I managed to get her every year I went there, three years as a student and 1 as a TA. She's the funniest, and easy going in a strict sort of way. If your (sic) looking for laughs and learning she's your teacher" said one commenter on Dec. 12.

In a similar high-profile case last year, Livermore resident agreed to a that gave her five years in prison for unlawful sex with two 14-year-old boys.

The Investigations Bureau does not believe that there are any additional victims in the Johnson case. However, the department recommends that parents speak with their children about the nature of any contacts with Johnson. Any person having knowledge of this crime, or any other crimes involving Johnson, should contact Livermore Police Department Press Information Officer Steve Goard at 925-294-7531.

If you're interested in what others have to say about this story, visit our Facebook Page. At last count, there were 85 comments about it. For a compilation of other online conversations, read our Storify article.

Daleen Berry January 14, 2012 at 02:21 PM
I received this via email; the writer wants to be anonymous. "When I saw this, my heart sank. I am a female teacher & the issue of trust is vital. These accounts of teachers betraying their trust is overwhelming. I'm blown away by the revelation that a fellow educator (allegedly) crossed the line with a male student. Mostly I feel numb. This teacher was a trusted a friend, a colleague, a role model. My feelings range from wanting to just let it all out to total disbelief, & are about the betrayal of our entire reputation. Students trusted her & are still trying to. I know no matter WHAT this student may or may not have done to instigate an inappropriate sexual act with a teacher, the bottom line is that the teacher knows this is wrong. We ALL have a responsibility to keep personal feelings from allowing students to forget the only thing that matters: we have an OBLIGATION & TRUST to protect. Children, parents, & the community trust us. We trust each other. But now people will look at ALL of us & ask if they can trust ANY of us. We must take strong measures 2 protect ourselves & our students, from going over the line. Every teacher should know that when we care so much about our students, a student can possibly take this positive attention in the wrong way." (Continued in next comment)
Daleen Berry January 14, 2012 at 02:22 PM
This is the final comment (that exceeded word length and resulted in them being called "Tolstoy!" from the anonymous teacher above, who emailed me. "But WE must NEVER do this. Teachers know what it's like 2 have a close relationship with students & even receive an occasional suggestive or inappropriate comment (or truthfully, in today's age, an outright proposal) from a student. We SHOULD know how 2 deal with this in a professional NOT a personal way, so we can protect the dignity of the student & the trust of our community."
Raleigh January 14, 2012 at 05:17 PM
REALLY, this is the format to promote yourself, your book, and your performances?
Dublin Mom January 14, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Daleen Berry, you bring up a valid issue: How long has the Livermore School District known about this? Were they protecting a suspected pedophile who was hiding behind the Union's apron? How long has the Teacher's Union known about the allegations? Was this teacher known to be suspected all this school year? Is it the policy of the Teacher's Union and the Livermore School District to just cross their fingers and pick their noses while a sexual abuse allegation is investigated?
Dublin Mom January 14, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Oops, I mean hebephile...I was under the impresion that the child was 13 when this started. He was 14.
Daleen Berry January 14, 2012 at 07:29 PM
No Raleigh, if I had been promoting my book, I would have included a link and noted where it was available to buy. (PS: I think you missed the word "FREE" somewhere. It actually costs me money to travel across country on my own dime. I received no compensation of any kind for my speech at Grenada. Nor did I expect to at LHS. Furthermore, I did not ask to speak at these high schools. They invited me--after I spoke at a UC Berkeley event which was, again, for free. Dublin Mom, you made the same connection this 20-year police reporter did. Good for you!
Dublin Mom January 14, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Hmmm. The school district was following the due process guidelines. Are they to protect the staff or the students? I have never heard of a school district that chose the rights and safety of a student over the rights and safety of the employees; students are just assembly line products and employees are the REAL reason that they exist. Anything that they say to the contrary is just not true if you note the laws that are designed to protect the employees over any abused student. In fact, the State Dept. of Education will not pursue any charge of abuse to children unless there is physical evidence or an adult witness to corroborate any allegation. It is nearly impossible to substantiate, particularly if all witnesses are minors. Thus, only about 5 violations per year are found to be true. In the meantime, an out-of-control, sick individual was allowed to be in daily contact with children that the district is required to protect. One question, did she get a favorable review or a good teacher award during this time? The district administration and the union should be ashamed of themselves.
Raleigh January 14, 2012 at 08:23 PM
The use of "my", "me", and "I" over 15 times in three short paragraphs did not hide the word "Free" it just obscured it and your concern about this incident in our community.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:53 AM
I’ve remained silent on this issue out of respect for the privacy of all individuals involved in this case and have done my best to wait for all of the information to be released (which it still hasn’t), but these posts have become way to ridiculous, inflammatory, and liable to the extent that it’s offensive and I must. The recent comments made by “Dublin Mom” on the Livermore.Patch.com site are simply offensive.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:56 AM
The articles report that the student told another staff person on campus about the accusations on Tuesday. That staff person obviously did what they were trained to do as a mandated reporter and immediately reported it. The police were involved immediately and the accused was arrested prior to the start of school. The articles have also stated that the “alleged assaults occurred in a car and other undisclosed locations in Livermore.” There is no mention that it occurred at Granada. We don’t have some secret room that everyone turns a blind eye to so that adults and children can spend time together.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Your suggestions that the District and Unions knew about this sickens me and I can only imagine what your motivation is for suggesting this. If you have “never heard of a school district that chose the rights and safety of a student over the rights and safety of the employees…”, you have certainly never heard of any of our schools in the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District because that’s what we all do – at every one of them. Your “facts” and “statistics” around employee rights, violations, employee evaluations, and what the purpose of the Union is are completely fabricated in your mind.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:56 AM
The comments made by Dalene Barry are simply inaccurate. She was invited to speak at GHS by a classified staff member who knew her and around the time of her visit began working for her as her “Education Outreach Coordinator”. Her presentation about her personal experiences being abused to a Human Development/Relationships class was the appropriate venue. Speaking to the entire campus of Livermore High School was not – especially since it was not approved by the administration and was misrepresented to a staff member there as if it had been wholeheartedly recommended by Granada.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM
Her book was never pulled off the library shelves because it was never on the library shelves. Books – especially books donated to the school by an individual – must be reviewed and then approved prior to being placed in libraries or classrooms. Imagine what would happen if schools just accepted any book that was given to them? What if Playboy Magazine donated a subscription, would you expect that we’d immediately make it available to students?
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM
Your suggestion that the case was being “investigated by school authorities at the time, and that was why [your] visit was canceled” is completely offensive. And you expect to be invited back as a speaker? (It might also be good if you can get the name of our school correct – it’s Granada, not Grenada) Disclaimer: The comments made here represent my personal views and my views only and do not represent any official position, policy, or contract of the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District or the Livermore Education Association.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM
I am currently employed as a teacher at Granada High School and am darned proud of our school, staff, and students. Prior to Granada, I was the president of our teacher’s union for four years, am currently the Bargaining Chair, and am darned proud of the vast majority of my fellow staff members and the work that our union does to represent the teachers of Livermore. Prior to LEA, I taught at Livermore High School and am darned proud of that school, too. Prior to LHS, I taught at Marylin Avenue until our bilingual program was dissolved and I decided to obtain my Single Subject Fine Arts Credential to teach at the High School level. And, yes, I’m darned proud of Marylin Avenue Elementary School as well.
Sharon January 15, 2012 at 07:15 PM
There are many good reasons for me also to feel strongly about all the hard working, honest, and wonderful people we have in our school district and unions. I have also held back because speaking publicly on this subject can bring danger to me, but there are some misunderstandings here. First let me say that I am also proud of how Granada and the LPD handled this situation. Also, can we fault any person for simply expressing their concerns and wondering? Is not the protection of every victim's well being of primary focus here? For those who think Ms. Berry is simply seeking to promote her memoir, that is a mistake. Ms. Berry's children attended LHS and she has a passion for our kids, for education and for truth. Ms. Berry IS seeking to promote education for ALL victims, the courage to SPEAK to someone they trust, and the ability to get oneself out of a bad situation. Often at her own expense. Silence is the enemy here. This student speaking up, and ALL speaking up, is what she advocates for. This message is vital for all students and staff to hear. Both Mr. Pickering and Ms. Berry are strong advocates for victims of bullying and fear induced silencing, and at the core they both fight for many of the same things and for our kids. Can we band together on those issues with respect and compassion? Don't all of us who may have been silenced need to be given protection, safe persons to trust and to be given a voice?
MagnusT January 15, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I am observing comments like yours with morbid curiousity. The court of hearsay and blind obedience is still apparently in session.
MagnusT January 15, 2012 at 08:25 PM
I remember that, too. I was a kid when all that was happening. Those people were found "guilty" in the court of public opinion, thanks to a prosecutor who wanted to advance their career and a news media always happy to take on a salacious story with lascivious details. Ultimately, they were exonerated. Imagine that? They went from being "obviously guilty as sin" to completely innocent, and it only took hundreds of days and millions of dollars to figure this out. And then there's this case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troy_Davis That guy wasn't so lucky. The gods must be appeased. They want more blood.
MagnusT January 15, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Joseph, if you can produce the actual confession and publish it here then that's one thing. If you can't then you should simply remain silent.
MagnusT January 15, 2012 at 08:30 PM
What's worse: the victim of a crime, or the execution of an innocent accused? The accused need protection as well.
Daleen Berry January 16, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Keith, I've spent 20 years digging through suppositions, generalities and random assertions to arrive at fair, objective and factual news reporting that has garnered me several awards. The first thing I'm most proud of is that during some of the most sensitive interviews I've conducted, the subject being interviewed has said to me that I'm the first person they have revealed their truth (whatever it was) to. The second thing is that I have never exaggerated, adapted or lied about their truths--or anything else in my serious journalism work. Third is the fact that not one time has an editor at any paper where I've worked had to reprimand me for fabricating "facts" or of even inaccurately reporting anything I've written. So when I say my book was pulled from the shelves, that's because it was. I stood right beside LHS Principal Darrel Avilla in the school library, where he directly told Librarian Stephanie Bogetti to remove ALL four copies from the shelves. I heard Ms. Bogetti's reply, because I was standing within a two-foot radius, at most, from both of them. She first questioned him, as if she didn't think she heard correctly. He repeated his directive. She then said three of the books had already been checked out, and only one remained in circulation. He told her to remove it, then. She did so and I think he took it with him, promising to read it.
Daleen Berry January 16, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Continuing about the removal of my book from the library shelves, I heard that the book was returned to circulation by the following Monday, but I did not try to verify that, as it did not seem that LHS officials wished to speak to me further. And yes, I did offer to return to speak--because Mr. Avilla said, after hearing my presentation, that he saw nothing wrong with it and they hoped to have me back to speak the next time I was in the area. However, when I emailed Mr. Avilla to tell him about my next visit, he said this in an Oct. 25 email: "Thank you for inquiring; however, Livermore High School does not have a need for your presentation at this time." Several staffers at both high schools expressed disappointment and surprise at this decision, and I am told that at least one person who heard me speak to the Granada students went to speak to Mr. Avilla personally, to appeal to him on the basis of the benefits such a discussion could bring about. After that email reply, I had no hope of a future invitation. And I am not the one being harmed by that decision--your students are. It is very sad, really, that adults in a position of power do not first, adhere to the superintendent's mission statement as posted on the LVJUSD website, which directly speaks to issues such as this one. If there is nothing to hide, are other unanswered questions that remain, and
Daleen Berry January 16, 2012 at 12:45 AM
In that mission statement, Ms. Bowers states her desire--one which I would hope is shared by the entire district--to help students become "increasingly educated, enriched and empowered." When people like me, who volunteer their time and energy to help youths, are not permitted to speak about experiences such as mine--which involves 13 years of sexual abuse, domestic violence, four pregnancies by age 21 and a very close scrape with suicide--then our youth are left in the lurch, because the UNSPOKEN message they get is that the adults would rather they not speak about what they may also be going through, at home or at school, that could easily be just as bad as what I went through. But the bigger message I hope I leave with students, and anyone really, is that no matter what horrible thing has happened to you, you are strong enough to overcome it. Being a teen mom and having four children by the time I did, being forced to have a tubal ligation because of ongoing rape within my marriage that was going to ensure I continued "barefoot and pregnant" and so on and so forth, ad nauseam, was not the end of my life--it was the beginning. Just the beginning. Because by now, you see, after I was able to get help and flee such a harmful relationship, I went on to accomplish most of the goals I had as a child. It took an immense amount of work, and a willingness to ask others for help, but I did it--and so can anyone else! That's the message that I wanted to share with LHS students.
Daleen Berry January 16, 2012 at 12:58 AM
Finally, I did not claim as if it was a fact that my visit was canceled due to the case being investigated by school officials then, in September, I said this: "I can't help but wonder" if that was the case. Let me tell you why: Librarian Stephanie Bogetti was visibly shaken by the early morning events of Sept. 23. She was in tears over the situation. I'm pretty sure she was afraid that she was probably afraid of losing the new job she had just taken, although she never told me that. What she did tell me was that she was afraid that every book coming through the door, as a result of what was happening that day with my book, would be subjected to a strict process she had never seen happen before,at her previous jobs. As a librarian, she was allowed to choose, order and place in circulation books that she, as a trained professional she was and is, without ever having her choices questioned--or censored. She feared--and so did I, after what I saw and heard firsthand that morning--that the students would suffer, if the book-buying process became so micro-managed. I have not spoken to Stephanie since I left the school. I heard from various people after my visit that a directive had been issued to everyone involved, that they were not supposed to discuss the matter with anyone. I did send her flowers the following week, as a show of concern and support, but I never heard back from her. That concerns me. Greatly.
Daleen Berry January 16, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Anyway, I've gotten a bit off topic. The sexual abuse allegedly occurred "during a six-month period, beginning in December 2010 and ending in May of 2011." Yet police did not find out about it until this past Tuesday. So it is possible that someone within the school system was aware of something. I would hope not. What I hope instead, and what I think more probable, is that after hearing me speak at Granada, the word about my teen experiences spread, and students began talking among themselves, which often happens in such cases, and perhaps a friend of the male victim was emboldened to tell the victim that these types of relationships are not equal in power or in any other way, and that he wasn't the willing partner he may have believed himself to be--but he was, instead, a victim. A victim who needed to get help. We do agree on one thing: I cannot imagine many educators who, upon learning about such a crime, would allow it to continue without going through the proper channels to report it. It could be that "Dublin Mom" feels this is possible because of the large gap between the last alleged incident, in May, and the fact that police weren't contacted until last week. When my children were students in the LVJUSD system, I only experienced the oppositie of that. Their needs were put first, and the teachers and administrators performed admirably to see they got whatever help they needed, and promptly.
Sharon January 16, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Is one worse than the other? As a victim of both, as many are, we know both are horrible. In this case, the news states there was a confession. I cannot judge this case, and would not want to. Justice requires level heads and honest hearts. Let's hope for both.
Keith Pickering-Walters January 16, 2012 at 05:19 AM
Daleen, Thanks for replying to clarify. You are passionate about this topic and I appreciate that. I'll have to verify some info Tuesday or Wednesday before I can reply in more detail, but I believe that you understand how damaging "wondering" or "supposing" can be for all parties concerned through a forum such as this. Thanks again. -Keith PW
vicki January 16, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Daleen, I heard nothing but good things about your talk at GHS. Thank you for helping to get the word out. There are many children in Livermore that are being taken advantage of and have nowhere to turn - they just know they are to keep quiet. Many of the children are not even in high school yet. LHS needs to have you speak. Yes, it is necessary. The LHS children are missing out. There needs to be more people like you, Daleen.
peggy harding January 16, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Keith, thank you for all your sensitive and thoughtful responses. -Peggy
Daleen Berry February 25, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Keith, I dropped the ball and wanted to apologize; I was getting ill when you last commented and have only recently gotten back to the correspondence I let go by the wayside. I totally understand your point of view and have no desire to inflame anyone, when it comes to these cases. If you want to reach me directly, my email is daleen.berry@gmail.com. Thank you!

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