More charges lodged against West Tisbury School teacher
Daniel K. Johnson, a West Tisbury School teacher, was arraigned in Edgartown District Court Tuesday on five new charges of furnishing alcohol to minors and one new charge of disseminating obscene material to a minor. The charges involve five additional Island teenagers, including three who are juveniles. Mr. Johnson has been on administrative leave with pay since his arrest in December.
Parents of four children involved in the case sat in the front row of the court seating area. Cape and Island assistant district attorney Laura Marshard twice referred to the parents during the arraignment before Associate Justice John M. Julian. Attorney Charles Morano, representing Mr. Johnson, asked for more specific information about evidence in the case. The court set a date of February 17 for a pre-trial hearing. Mr. Johnson is free on $5,000 bail. Judge Julian declined to increase the bail on the additional complaints. Under the terms of bail, he is not allowed to have any contact with anyone under the age of 18.
arraigned Tuesday in Edgartown District Court on new charges of furnishing alcohol and pornography to minors.
Photo by Steve Myrick
The new charges were added to seven similar allegations, involving at least five other teenagers, leveled against the 43-year-old industrial arts teacher in the Edgartown court on December 10.
Police went to Mr. Johnson's house on the evening of December 9, with a search warrant and information that Mr. Johnson had provided alcohol to students and hosted parties where young people drank.
Police arrested him that night and removed computer material from his house. Tisbury police are currently investigating whether material on the computer may warrant more charges.
At his first arraignment on December 10, Ms. Marshard told the court that Mr. Johnson continually and repeatedly supplied pornographic material to young people, ages 16 and 17. "Many of them are former students," she said.
Mr. Johnson began teaching at the West Tisbury School in 2001 and has lived on Martha's Vineyard for 10 years. In addition to his work at the school, he is also an EMT with the Tri-Town Ambulance Service and served as the squad representative on the Tri-Town Ambulance Committee. In keeping with Tri-Town policy, Mr. Johnson was placed on administrative leave until the conclusion of the criminal case.
According to the initial police report, the investigation began on December 1, when a West Tisbury parent went to the Tisbury police station and told officer Dan Hanavan that he had suspected for some time that an adult was providing his son with alcohol. He said that last winter he had caught his son with a bottle of vodka, and, with the assistance of the store where the bottle was purchased, he determined that Mr. Johnson was the purchaser.
In the report, Mr. Hanavan describes a conversation with Mr. Johnson on December 1. Regarding the complaints. Mr. Johnson told Mr. Hanavan that the student did not get along with his parents and that he, the teacher, was available to talk. He said the student sometimes slept over on his couch.
Subsequent police interviews with parents and students who came in contact with Mr. Johnson paint a picture of an adult who willingly provided alcohol and a place to hang out to male students, and on occasion showed pornographic films and offered to provide sexual favors.
According to one interview, an unidentified student told officer Hanavan he first received alcohol from Mr. Johnson the summer after he completed the eighth grade, and needed only to call Mr. Johnson.
According to the report, one teen said he spent almost every weekend in October and November at Mr. Johnson's house. The teen said, "Johnson has a beer pong table he built in the basement for drinking games. Approximately 10 to 15 teenagers hang out, listen to music and drink. Some people bring their own alcohol, but other people pitch in money, and Johnson goes alone to the package store to buy alcohol."