HOUSTON (KTRK) --A 50-year-old teacher at a southwest Houston school faced a judge today on federal child pornography charges. The judge did not offer bond.
Jason Jion Johnson, who worked out of Beechnut Academy alternative school, is charged with distribution, receipt and possession of child pornography.
"Anytime you're in court with the government, it's a big battle," said Warren Fitzgerald Jr, Johnson's attorney.
Johnson's attorney wouldn't comment on specifics on the case and said he's still getting information himself.
This isn't Johnson's first time before a judge. Back in 1998 he pleaded guilty to indecent exposure. It's a charge the Texas Education Agency said should have showed up in a background check. Still, Johnson was hired at Beechnut Academy just two years later, where he worked for 16 years.
We wondered how he could work at school with an indecent exposure conviction. So we asked the Houston Independent School District. The district said it contracts operations out to an Austin-based company called Camelot Education.
"When we assumed management of the school in 2012 we conducted all of those background checks, all of the new employees, that were hired. We did not conduct background checks on employees who were already working at the school because they had already received state and school district approval," said Krik Dorn, spokesperson for Camelot Education.
Since Johnson was already at Beechnut Academy, Dorn said Camelot Education never did a check. The company that used to operate Beechnut Academy before Camelot Education, is no longer in business. Johnson has since been fired.
As a result of what learning about Johnson's past conviction, Camelot Education is now going back and doing background checks on all employees who worked at Beechnut Academy prior to 2012, before Camelot education took over operations of the school.
A look into Johnson's teaching background revealed his teaching certificate was suspended from 2000 to 2004. At this point, we do not know why.
1991-1992 QUEEN CITY ISD MORRIS UPCHURCH: MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER
1992-1993 BEAUMONT ISD M L KING: MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER
1993-1994 BEAUMONT ISD M L KING: MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER
1994-1995 ALDINE ISD MACARTHUR: HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER
1995-1996 CORPUS CHRISTI ISD KING: HIGH SCHOOL
1997 CORPUS CHRISTI ISD KING: HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER
2000-2016 HISD BEECHNUT ACADEMY: MIDDLE SCHOOL TEACHER
A student of Johnson says he remembers the teacher giving 'weird' attention to students.
Johnson would hand out candy and reward those who did well.
The student, whose name is Daniel, was a student of Johnson's 7th grade social studies class and homeroom in 2010-2011.
Daniel reacted to the fact that Johnson was arrested and charged with indecent exposure in 1998 and said he couldn't believe that Johnson would be allowed to be around students.
He ended up getting one year probation with deferred adjudication which ended in July 1999. Though he was ordered to participate in a sexual offender treatment program, he was not required to register as a sex offender.
A family friend of Johnson says she's shocked to hear the allegations.
"I could cry I really could cry," she said.
Full statement released to Eyewitness News:
"The Houston Independent School District is concerned that an individual with a past criminal conviction for indecent exposure is employed as a teacher by Camelot, the private company that operates the Beechnut Academy. The district's contract with Camelot mandates that all service providers having contact with HISD students meet hiring standards that include passing a criminal background check. The district has asked Camelot to provide immediate written verification that the company has complied with this requirement. In addition, HISD has asked Camelot to provide the results of criminal background checks on all service providers having contact with HISD students. Ensuring the safety and security of students and staff is the district's top priority."
According to charging documents, agents found videos and print outs of young girls ranging from infants to young teenagers.
Even more disturbing, FBI agents also discovered "VHS tapes of what appeared to be hidden camera video from a clothes changing area within a school." The report says the video shows Johnson positioning the camera and then walking out of view. According to the documents, he recorded the young girls "Removing their clothes while in the process of changing into a presumed band uniform."
Johnson will face a grand jury in the next month.