Teacher’s solicitation case moves forward

ELKINS – An Elkins High School teacher charged with soliciting a minor student at the school waived his right to a preliminary hearing but made two motions Tuesday in Randolph County Magistrate Court.

Donald A. Johnson, 33, was arrested on July 16 and charged with one felony count of solicitation of a minor. Bond for Johnson was set at $75,000 cash only by Randolph County Chief Magistrate Ben Shepler.

On Tuesday, Johnson, along with his attorney, Rebecca Judy, waived his right to a preliminary hearing but made a motion asking that his bond be modified and that he be taken off home confinement and electronic monitoring.

Judy said if Johnson was released from home confinement he could seek employment and would be able to use a facility with exercise equipment.

Randolph County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lori Haynes did not object to a modification of bond but said the state strongly objected to removing Johnson from home confinement.

“It is my understanding, your honor, that the home confinement through the sheriff’s department does permit the defendant to go look for a job,” Haynes said. “If there is some sort of, I think the motion mentioned some sort of exercise that he wasn’t able to do because he couldn’t leave the house. If there is some sort of a doctor’s excuse for him to need to go seek exercise in a facility where they have work-out equipment, I am sure that can be done.”

Randolph County Magistrate Rob Elbon left the bond amount the same but chose to modify the terms to include both cash and surety. Elbon ruled against releasing Johnson from home confinement and electronic monitoring.

“As far as the cash bond goes, I am going to modify that to cash or surety…,” Elbon said. “As far as the electronic monitoring goes, I am not going to modify that at this time. You can address the Circuit Court with it at the next level. The sheriff’s department has certain guidelines, I can make recommendations to them as far as allowing him, with a doctor’s excuse, to go to the gym or wherever he needs to go.”

By waiving his right to a prelimary hearing, Johnson’s case will now go to Randolph County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint, the alleged victim, a 16-year-old female, told Randolph County Child Advocacy Center officials in February she “had been engaged in a relationship with Johnson.” She reportedly told officials Johnson “obtained” her cell phone number and began calling and texting her.

The alleged victim said Johnson “continuously engaged her in sexually explicit conversations, such as asking her what sexual positions she preferred,” and asked her to graphically describe other sexual acts. She also said Johnson asked her several times to send him pictures of her “posing in an inappropriate manner,” and she sent him several photos of that type, the complaint states.

The criminal complaint states Johnson is a teacher at Elkins High School and the alleged victim is a student at EHS. The relationship took place from June 2013 to January, according to the complaint.

As of Tuesday, no decision on Johnson’s continuing employment as a teacher had been made by the Randolph County Board of Education. In July, Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George said, “Our part of this will be resolved in a personnel hearing. That is all I can say because at the current time, this is still an open personnel issue.”