LOS GATOS – A former Los Gatos elementary school teacher and youth theater director has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for child molestation and child annoyance, authorities said.
Handed down Monday in Santa Clara County Superior Court, the lengthy sentence follows Joseph Brian Houg’s decision in August to plead no contest to 10 felony counts of child molestation and three misdemeanor counts of child annoyance. The 51-year-old San Jose resident also agreed at that time to resign from the Los Gatos Union School District, where he worked as a teacher at Blossom Hill Elementary School.
Detectives with the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation in May 2020 after a 13-year-old boy said the director of the Los Gatos Youth Theatre, identified as Houg, had made him uncomfortable during a one-on-one Zoom video call.
According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Houg repeatedly asked the boy to show him his abdomen muscles until he relented. Another child reported a similar incident.
The investigation uncovered other incidents stretching back to 2003 and involving children as young as 8 years old. One victim told the sheriff’s office Houg touched his stomach and genitals during gym class in 2008 when the victim was in fifth grade.
Detectives found electronic devices at Houg’s home containing videos of young boys changing their clothes and videos and images of children in their underwear, according to the sheriff’s office. Houg was arrested on Sept. 3, 2020, and charged later that month.
“Our hearts go out to the victims in this case, and we take solace knowing the community will be safer now that Joseph Houg is in prison,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement Wednesday.
One of Houg’s victims is suing the district, alleging a failure to properly investigate abuse claims and protect students over a nearly two-decade span. The victim says Houg fondled him in January 2020 when they were alone together in a dressing room.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages from Houg and the district, as well as injunctive relief that would mandate that the district institute measures including, but not limited to, training both educators and students on recognizing and reporting grooming and other predatory behavior and inappropriate contact; barring closed-door one-on-one interactions between adults and students outside of counseling; and implementing robust reporting and accountability protocols for complaints and rule violations.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)