LOS GATOS, Calfi. - A Los Gatos teacher is out of jail Friday evening, after his arrest for child molestation and other charges.
Joseph Houg was released from the main Santa Clara County jail in San Jose after securing a $100,000 bail bond. Sheriff’s detectives say he’s charged with committing felony lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, and multiple counts of molesting a minor.
“Any case pertaining to sexual assault is very disturbing to any of us here in the sexual assault unit. Specifically when it comes to the children,” said case Det. Vince Mitre of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Sexual Assault Unit.
He said in May, a 13-year-old boy at the Los Gatos Youth Theatre came forward saying Houg asked to see his abdominal muscles during a one-on-one Zoom meeting. Officials said an ensuring investigation revealed a second theatre victim, also harassed via Zoom. Then a third victim revealed in 2008, Houg, a teacher at Blossom Hill Elementary School, touched his genitals.
Detectives searched Houg’s San Jose home and found Zoom recordings of children doing yoga. And videos of boys changing clothes, and in their underwear.
“It’s very disturbing. And we need to decipher through that evidence and in a way assist the victims through this and get them the appropriate support and the appropriate help,” said Det. Mitre.
In an emailed statement to Fox 2, the Los Gatos Union School District wrote in part, when officials learned of the investigation at the end of the last academic year, they, “…Took prompt action by placing (Houg) on administrative leave to remove his contact with students.”
“The online world is always a mirror of the offline world. And if somebody is going to be creepy in the offline world, their likely to be creep in the online world. Fortunately most adults are law abiding and take care of children and love children. But you do have to be aware that there could be people who are trying to do inappropriate things,” said Larry Magid, CEO of ConnectSafely, a non-profit dedicated to educating users of connected technology about safety.
Joseph Houg’s next court date hasn’t been scheduled yet. Santa Clara sheriff’s deputies ask anyone with information, or who had a negative experience with Houg to contact them.