Teacher Indictment for ‘Sexual Intercourse’ with JHS Student Contains Error, Mistake Could Have Resulted in Not Guilty Verdict

johnson Feb 2019
Heather Johnson

Posted: Feb. 18, 2020 at 3:24 p.m. CST

By BOB PALMER
Jimplecute News Editor

JEFFERSON – A Marion County indictment accusing Heather Elizabeth Johnson, 27, of an “improper relationship between educator/student” names the wrong high school as her place of employment.

The Marion County Grand Jury alleged that Johnson “on or about the 1st day of October, 2018, and before the presentment of this indictment, in said County and State, did then and there, while the defendant was an employee of a public secondary school, to-wit: Jefferson High School, intentionally or knowingly engage in sexual intercourse with John Doe #96, a person who was enrolled in the said Jefferson High School and who was not the defendant’s spouse.”

Jefferson ISD Superintendent Rob Barnwell denied that Johnson was employed by the district.

GGs Visit Jefferson“She did not work for us,” Barnwell said. “I believe the only place she was working was as a substitute in Marshall.”

Assistant District Attorney Bill Gleason confirmed the error.

“That was a mistake,” Gleason said. “She was an employee of Marshall ISD.”

Johnson Indictment
This is the grand jury indictment of Heather Johnson erroneously identifying her as a Jefferson High School employee.

Gleason said the indictment would be amended and that it is lawful for her to be tried here in Marion County even though she was not employed as a teacher in Marion County.

“She can be prosecuted here under the [changes in the law] that occurred a few years ago,” Gleason explained.

Jim Finstrom, Johnson’s attorney, said the faulty indictment could have resulted in a mistrial and a not guilty verdict.

McGaritys Visit Jefferson“If they had arraigned her on [the faulty indictment], and read it to the jury, and she entered a plea of not guilty, and then they went forward, it would be a not guilty,” Finstrom said.

The former prosecuting attorney said that amending the indictment could require another action by the grand jury.

Another educator, Shannon Lynn Griffin, 48, is also under indictment here for the same offense, possibly with the same student.

griffin cheerleaders
Shannon Griffin

Griffin’s indictment reads: “Shannon Lynn Griffin, on or about the 1st day of November, 2018, and before the presentment of this indictment, in said County and State, did then and there, while the defendant was an employee of a public secondary school, to-wit: Jefferson High School, intentionally or knowingly engage in sexual intercourse with John Doe #96, a person who was enrolled in the said Jefferson High School and who was not the defendant’s spouse.”

The two indictments allege the two offenses occurred one month apart on October 1, 2018 and November 1, 2018, both times with “John Doe #96.”

The Jimp reached out to Griffin and Johnson for comment, but has not received a response.

Both Griffin and Johnson appeared at 115th Judicial District Court docket call Feb. 6. Both cases were passed. The next criminal docket call for the 276th Judicial District Court is set for May 4. The 115th Judicial District court will next have a docket call on Aug. 6.

At a docket call, if both sides are ready, a trial date can be set.

Ron Atwood Visit JeffersonJefferson ISD has had three educators accused of sex-related criminal charges in as many school years.

Lance B. Reese resigned as a Jefferson Junior High teacher after his arrest by Garland officers on a charge of sexual assault of a child in 2019.

Griffin was charged with improper relationship with a student following a 2018 incident.

Wesley Dawn Lawless, a JHS vocational agriculture teacher, was accused of having sexual intercourse with one of her students in 2017.

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