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Silently Shifting Teachers in Sex Abuse Cases

June 19, 2002

Duane C. Johnson turned up in southern Nevada nine years ago, a school recruiter's lucky break. He was a former high school football coach from Utah, game to work with the most troubled students here in Nevada. When a job opened at Child Haven, a shelter for neglected children, school administrators did not hesitate to send him over.

 

Within a year, however, a 13-year-old girl at Child Haven stepped forward to accuse Mr. Johnson of repeatedly exposing himself and groping her.

 

Only then, the local school administrators said, did they learn what really propelled Mr. Johnson from his last job in Utah: accusations by school officials that he had impregnated a student there in her senior year. Although Mr. Johnson contended that the relationship began three weeks after the girl graduated from high school in late June, she gave birth to an eight-pound baby the February after her graduation, and an inquiry resulted in the loss of Mr. Johnson's Utah teaching license.

 

''Had I known that, I would never have moved him to Child Haven,'' said Matthew Lusk, principal of schools for Clark County's juvenile courts. ''They're the most vulnerable kids there.''

 

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