A teacher charged in April with third-degree criminal sexual conduct will stand trial next week in Sibley County Court.
Megan Jo Johnson, 40, is accused of having sex with a 17-year-old boy who came to the private school where she worked. He sought help after his father abandoned him.
According to court documents, Johnson went to the Sibley County Sheriff’s Office in March and reported that she had an inappropriate sexual relationship with the teen. She was a kindergarten teacher at Prairie Lutheran School in Gibbon, Minn., and an active member of the school-affiliated Immanuel Lutheran Church.
Her trial starts Tuesday.
In 2015, the boy showed up at the school seeking help. He was from Guatemala and his father had recently left him. He knew little English. Johnson, who speaks Spanish, acted as his translator and tutor. Johnson told authorities she assisted him with immigration paperwork and provided food and clothing. She helped him enroll in school and become a member of the church.
Johnson told authorities their sexual relationship began in January 2016 when they were driving back from a family law attorney’s office.
The relationship escalated. During their tutoring sessions and before his Bible study, they would have sexual encounters inside the classroom, at her home when her husband was gone and sometimes at his newly adopted home.
“Megan stated that she knew what she was doing was wrong,” according to the criminal complaint.
The victim confirmed to authorities what Johnson had reported. However, he told authorities that she was the aggressor and that he was “afraid, confused, and did not know what was happening,” according to the criminal complaint. The victim, now 18, said Johnson became emotional and upset when he was adopted by another family.
Johnson told authorities she felt like a mother toward him.
Johnson’s defense attorney argued that the state lacks evidence to prove she ever was in a position of authority over him and that she was not his primary teacher. The defense asked the judge to dismiss the complaint.
“Because Ms. Johnson’s role in [the victim’s] life does not meet the statutory requirements, it is unfair for the state to require her to stand trial,” her attorney, Christopher Rosengren, wrote in a brief.
Prosecutors argued that Johnson was in a position of authority.
“She has intertwined herself as a mother figure in the alleged victim’s life since the day she met him,” wrote Assistant Sibley County Attorney Donald E. Lannoye in a brief.
The judge denied the request for dismissal.