Teacher sex case prelim hearing delayed
August 7, 2007
The former Squaw Valley teacher accused of having sex with an underaged student will have to return to court next month after a preliminary hearing in Tahoe City Tuesday morning was postponed.Alongside a new attorney, William Routsis, Christine Johnson was granted more time and another conference before the preliminary examination will again be set. She blocked her face from view during the brief hearing.Dressed in black with her shoulder-length, curly brown hair pulled back, Johnson agreed Tuesday to an additional time waiver. The courts then scheduled another conference hearing for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20 in the Placer County Superior Court room in Tahoe City.Johnson, 28, pleaded not guilty on June 26 to a felony charge of unlawful sex with a minor and to two misdemeanor charges of providing minors with alcohol.During the last school year she taught history and a Scholastic Aptitude Test class at Squaw Valley Academy, a private boarding school with more than 100 middle and high school students.Described by colleagues and students as a great teacher, Johnson was arrested at her Squaw Valley residence in May following allegations of suspicious sexual behavior with her 17-year-old male student and reports to both the school and Placer Sheriffs detectives.Johnson no longer lives or works in the Tahoe area. She resides in Missouri, but has been present for all but her first court appearance.The September conference meeting will likely go forward without Johnson, but she will have to be present for the preliminary hearing, according to Placer Deputy District Attorney Chris Cattran.She is prohibited from contacting the victim, a restriction based on a protective order issued June 26 by Superior Court Commissioner Trilla Bahrke.The identity of the male student is protected because he is a minor and the possible victim of a sex crime.Even if the victim refuses to testify, the prosecution still has a case, said Cattran in a phone interview.The defense and prosecuting attorneys have so far not settled on any offers. Routsis, who is working the case with Laub & Laub Law Offices colleague Fred Maier, said he needs more time to get briefed on the investigation.As to whether or not the case will go to trial, Its anybodys guess, said Cattran.At this point, the defense and the prosecution have not agreed upon a disposition of the case. Theyre leaning one way, Im leaning another way, he said.