JENNINGS COUNTY, Ind. — “You ever been with someone my age before?”
“Oh nice. How old was he?”
Court documents allege a former Columbus North High School teacher told a 14-year-old decoy he had been with other teenagers before.
John Johnson, 52, was arrested on Wednesday, November 23 after the Jennings County Sheriff’s Office said he showed up to a North Vernon Walmart intending to meet the teenage decoy in person.
Instead, he encountered an adult member of Predator Catchers Inc. of Indianapolis, a group that uses underage decoys to communicate with adults in conversations that often take a sexual turn. The group often arranges to meet the would-be predators in public and records the encounter.
The Predator Catchers member posed as a 14-year-old named “Cory” on the gay hookup app Grindr. Johnson is accused of initiating a conversation with Cory under the name “Joe.”
“Cory” – How old are you again?Excerpt from Grindr chat
“Joe” – 45 you?
“Cory” – I’m like way younger that (sic) you
“Joe” – How old?
“Cory” – If you don’t want to talk I get it. I’m 14
“Joe” – Thats Cool. You look older than 14. Send me a pic. Age doesn’t bother me at all.
Although court records do not indicate the exact date the conversations began, their communication went at least as far back as September.
Chat records listed in the affidavit showed Joe asked Cory several times about meeting in person. He also told Cory he would like the decoy to perform oral sex on him and sent at least two pictures of his genitals.
Cory and Joe agreed to meet in the alcohol aisle of the Walmart on N. State Road 3 in North Vernon on Nov. 23. Court records show Joe sent pictures and video of himself driving to the store and another of him arriving in the Walmart parking lot.
A Jennings County deputy was standing by inside the store and arrested Joe, who police identified as John Johnson.
Johnson was formally charged with child solicitation on November 28.
Johnson was a teacher at Columbus North High School and also served as auditorium director and drama club coach. Upon learning of his arrest, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation said it immediately terminated Johnson.