Woman, 34, arrested after posing as high school student in Longview
From Staff Reports
May 15, 2014 at 7:31 a.m.
Details about why a 34-year-old woman enrolled as a teenage sophomore at a small private school in Longview continues to have those close to the situation scratching their heads.
"I would have had no idea," principal of New Life Christian School Stuart Newlin said Thursday of Charity Anne Johnson who was arrested Monday by Longview police after giving false information to officers. She was being held Wednesday afternoon in the Gregg County Jail on $500 bond.
"Everyone who associated with her accepted her as being 16 years-old," Newlin said. "She came in saying she had been home-schooled. She filled out a form with her birthday. I didn't ask for her birth certificate and that is on my shoulders."
Johnson enrolled at New Life Christian School on October 7, and told school officials at the time she was 15 years-old.
Longview Police Department spokeswoman Debra Stiles released a statement Thursday afternoon and said the department is conducting a full investigation.
According to the statement, officers were called to a civil disturbance at 11:27 p.m. Monday in the 400 block of South High Street.
"The reporting party advised that she had allowed a female to stay in her home and originally thought the girl was a teenager," the statement read. "Now she has reason to believe the girl was lying about her age and wanted our assistance in making her leave. Officers arrived on scene and the suspect told officers that her name was Charite Stevens and that her birth date was Nov. 24, 1997. During the course of the investigation, the officer learned that her actual name is Charity Johnson with a birth date of Nov. 20, 1979." According to Newlin, the school has an enrollment of 27 students from kindergarten through 12th grade. He said the school charges $150 a month, but there's no penalty if students don't pay. He said she'd been paying about $24 a month tuition at the school with about 30 students.
Newlin said he also teaches Algebra at New Life Christian and Stevens was one of his students.
"She was one of the more serious students," he said. "Always taking notes. There was nothing about her that would make you wonder."
Questions about Stevens' age first surfaced this past weekend when the woman tried to find placement with an at-risk group for women in Dallas, Newlin said.
He said the identification provided by Stevens said that the woman was born in 1979.
"We are trying to find out if the girl was using her ID," he said. "We are all asking the question of why would she want to come back to school."
Newlin said the school has never had an incident like this before and plans to be more careful in the future.
"I'm not sure we need to change much," he said. "This is sort of a unique situation but I will be more alert."
Johnson has never been considered a danger to other students, Newlin said.
"The why? Nobody seems to know why," Newlin said.