WatsonJohnny

Johnny Watson, right, sits with his wife, Susan Watson, and defense attorney Kyle J. Humphrey. Humphrey represented Watson on a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a minor. A jury found Watson not guilty in March. 

Johnny Gray Watson was a broken man. 

A student at Kern High School District's Regional Occupation Center accused him last year of sending her inappropriate text messages. The 17-year-old alleged he asked her for sex, and an investigation by police said Watson engaged in a graphic "sexting" conversation with her. 

Prosecutors filed a misdemeanor charge of annoying or molesting a minor and Watson, 51, was escorted out of the classroom where he taught video production. A videographer with decades of experiencing shooting sports and wedding videos, he suddenly found himself unemployable. 

Everything Watson had worked for seemed to be disappearing. He faced lifetime registration as a sex offender if convicted. 

"I cried in my son's arms. My wife's arms," Watson said through tears Monday as he discussed the allegations.

On Friday, for the first time in nearly a year and a half, he got some relief.

A Kern County jury acquitted Watson following a five-day trial in which his accuser admitted to plotting with another minor to obtain evidence to frame him, said Watson's attorney, Kyle J. Humphrey. 

Kern High School District spokeswoman Erin Briscoe said Watson remains on unpaid leave while the district completes an administrative review of the case. Watson said he plans on trying to get his job back. 

Johnny Watson, 50 at the time, was accused of making the remarks to the student between October and November of 2017, Bakersfield police said in a probable cause declaration. It was alleged he told the teen to keep quiet about the texts.

The teen came forward and presented police with photographs of messages she shared with Watson on Snapchat, court documents said.

She told investigators her relationship with Watson had been a normal student/teacher relationship until she texted him about a book he had mentioned in class. A texting conversation began about music and musical instruments, and Watson suggested they move their conversation to SnapChat, according to the documents. 

Soon after they made contact on SnapChat, which self-deletes the message after the receiving party views the message, Watson began making inappropriate comments, according to the documents. The girl used her iPad to photograph the comments on her phone.

Watson told her to keep quiet about their relationship, according to the documents. He sent her messages saying his career would be over if his wife or others found out. 

Among the messages he sent the teen, according to the documents, are the following:

• "Have you ever thought about having sex w me?"

• "Promise me that no matter what happens between us that we will always keep it on the DL."

• "We can't let that happen ever. We have to try harder then (sic) anything to keep it in the DL if someone were to find out we deny anything."

Watson said he tries not to be emotional, but found himself weeping as the verdict of not guilty was read. 

His wife, Susan Watson, 52, described the relief she felt as a "physical earthquake."

"It really felt like we could breathe again," she said.

The past few days, the Watsons have been inundated with phone calls and texts from family and friends. Johnny Watson said he wants to thank everyone who supported him throughout the ordeal. 

Humphrey said the surge of the #MeToo movement and groups that say the accuser should be believed regardless of the evidence are leading to an "upside down society" where people are guilty in the court of public opinion long before trial. 

But Humphrey said cases like Watson's, where previously undisclosed information comes forward during testimony, show judgment should be withheld. While he didn't speak with jurors afterward, Humphrey said he believes the girl's admission to trying to frame Watson had a strong impact on their decision. 

"This bloodthirsty, vampire attitude toward these case ends up damaging the accuser in the long run," he said.

(14) comments

Kittiekatt

“You are the reason liberals will destroy this country “ lol what a joke!!! Why does everyone make everything political? This story has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. Stop making everything political, That is what’s Destroying our country!!!

BakersfieldResident

I would really like to see this article re-written. As it is, there is no way to tell whether or not Watson sent the text messages. You used the word "framed", which implies that Watson was not the sender of the text messages. You also state that the student had the help of a friend, which sounds like they were the senders/receivers of the text messages.

But then you say the court documents show he did send the messages. Is the only "framing" this student did simply encouraging his interest with the purpose of later reporting him to the police? Because that is not technically framing. That's a sting operation when conducted by police: catching someone in a crime.

It is not a crime for the student to encourage his interest in a relationship with her, whereas it IS a crime for a teacher to message a minor student about having sex.

Please clarify this in the article ASAP: Did Watson send these text messages or not?

If the student sent the messages to herself, or through a third-party, her friend, then that is indeed framing. If not, you need to remove that word from the article.

JimmyDude

I agree with you and had the same thought when reading this article. I doubt seriously that it could have gone to trial if the text messages didn't exist. If the kid trapped him - thats not very nice - but it would still be on him. Not sure I'd want to see him go to jail for that, but I don't think I'd want him teaching my kids either. If those kids faked the whole thing it should be made clear, he should be COMPLETELY exonerated and those kids should face some serious discipline.

REMUDA

Key words (near the end of this 'treatise') . . . only to "THE LAW":
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" . . . the girl's admission to trying to frame Watson had a strong impact on their decision."
--------
That's the SOLITARY ILLEGAL ACT here . . . !
---------
Watch what happens next . . . !

REMUDA

Also, here a couple of good reads on the subject:
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https://academicmatters.ca/false-allegations-of-sexual-harassment-misunderstandings-and-realities/
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https://www.quora.com/Is-framing-someone-for-a-crime-a-crime

yorkies2014

it was the police "with pis s poor evidence" and their prosecutors who took the teacher to trail....not the Blue Wave of 2018....

ganczakr42

I'm sorry but what part of "he was framed" DO YOU NOT GET. you are the reason LIBERALS will destroy this country. Read the article completely you morons! This "17 yr old" Openly admits to plotting to FRAME this man & suffers NO consequences for falsely accusing this man. THAT"S why a jury aquitted him - HE's INNOCENT. His days as a teacher not only are not over but now he has the opportunity to sue if they don't hire him back. I hope this happens so that he can build a life again. Next time folks read the darn article!

Nevermind

Yeah, she was framing him....so does that mean he didn't actually wrote those things? Because if he did he's no more innocent than those caught in as police sting. Liberalism has nothing to do with it.

bobthebookworm

His days as teacher are over.

DesertSon

“PC 647.6.
(a) (1) Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000), by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both the fine and imprisonment.”

Since he didn’t have physical contact, I guess the case turned on whether the jury believed the victim was annoyed by his actions. Apparently, they found that she wasn’t all that annoyed.

tacojc69

What of admitted lying do you "not" understand! You and the #meto" just look for headlines! In your and their eyes this innocent man
was guilty from the beginning! SHAME and you people!

Anastacia351

How can a jury aquit him if they had proof? That's our legal system helping the bad guys and hurting the innocent

Kidventura

Actually, he is NOT a bad guy. I knew him in college but haven’t seen him in years. He’s a very nice man. The kid who accused him admitted she lied. The accusation was false and “evidence” fabricated. She wrecked his life with her lies.

cswilsn

Bad evidence is worse than no evidence at all. This was a plot to frame and the evidence was fabricated. Watson appears to be the only victim here, not the 17-year-old girl...

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