A Kern High School District teacher was acquitted on Friday, March 15 of charges stating that he had an "inappropriate texting relationship with a 17-year-old student". According to police documents, the teacher allegedly asked the child for sex during these exchanges.
Johnny Gray Watson was acquitted of a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a child under the age of 18. According to the Kern High School District, Watson, then 50, was employed as a teacher at the Regional Occupational Center (ROC) at the time of the allegations. KHSD says that Watson is currently on unpaid leave as the district "completes an administrative review of the situation".
Documents said, Watson also allegedly asked the child to keep their relationship a secret.
Criminal Defense Attorney Kyle Humphrey said the teen tried to set his client, Watson up. "I can say factually that she testified, that this was a design a purposeful gathering of evidence with the notion of harming Mr. Watson," said Humphrey.
The Deputy District Attorney Joseph Kinzel said, "Just because there was an acquittal, in this case, does not mean this person is going to start working in the school district tomorrow. It's very important to understand that in an acquittal, the jury finding that there was not proof beyond a reasonable doubt to send somebody to jail, is different than should we let this guy work with kids tomorrow."
Kinzel said, the DA always respects the jury's verdicts but was disappointed.
"He hopes to be restored. It's a long shot because we give people scarlet letters in this society, we are a judgy, harsh, labeling society and we rush to judgment, said Humphrey about his client.
Kinzel said it's up to the state credentialing agency who will review all the evidence, to decide if Watson will be able to teach again.