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Liberty County Pct. 1 Constable accused of harrassing former lover

September 7, 2018

A Liberty County constable was arrested and placed behind bars in Montgomery County after he was charged with a Class B misdemeanor of harassment.

Liberty County Pct. 1 Constable Justin Johnson, 41, was arrested by the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office Thursday around 2:30 p.m. stemming from alleged harassment against his ex-fiance, Steffani Erickson.

Liberty County officials were stunned with the arrest.

“I’m very saddened to hear that Liberty County Constable Justin Johnston was arrested for an offense of harassment today,” said Liberty County Attorney Matt Poston.

“The Justin I know, if that behavior is true, is very uncharacteristic of him,” he said.

The case was filed in Montgomery County because of jurisdiction.

“Jurisdiction is where the complainant resides and so it was filed here in Montgomery County,” said Tiana Jean Sanford, Chief Prosecutor in the Misdemeanor Division and Public Integrity Division.

“We will be diligent about pursuing justice,” she said.

Johnston faces up to $2,000 fine and 180 days in jail according to Section 4207 of the Penal Code.

“I’m confident that Montgomery County and the District Attorney’s office will arrive at a just solution of this cause, whatever it is,” Poston said.

He also reiterated that there are no repercussions to his office by being charged for the Class B offense.

However, there could be issues if he’s not able to hold his Texas Commission on Law Enforcement license. Without it, he cannot remain in law enforcement.

“It’s too early to know since we don’t know how this is going to play out,” Poston said.

“A guilty verdict would trigger some form of reaction from TCOLE and they have a full range of actions that they could take,” Poston said, “but that’s only if he’s found guilty.”

Poston also said that because it’s not a felony, it doesn’t trigger an automatic removal from office.

The county attorney said he was unaware if there was any form of official oppression involved in the alleged harassment.

Johnston doesn’t come back up for election again until 2020.

“I don’t know all of the details involved, but we’ll let this play out in the courts before making any kind of judgments,” said County Judge Jay Knight. He expressed his disappointment in the news.

In the affidavit for arrest warrant, Erickson details months of harassment coming from Johnston woven with numerous requests for him to cease communication.

Montgomery County arrest affidavit

At one point, he was warned by a Texas Ranger to stop, and it did briefly until Labor Day weekend when Erickson had finally had enough, according to the documents.

Erickson was by Johnston’s side following an accident where he was hit and severely injured spending months in the hospital.

In January, Erickson tried to end the relationship, but it didn’t end until April of 2018.

She told Texas Ranger D. L. Leitner in the affidavit that she met Johnston in the parking lot of the Academy Sports and Outdoors store in Humble to return the engagement ring he had given her. She asked for no communication and Johnston agreed—but it didn’t last, she said.

On May 21, he emailed her approximately 14 times between 6:44 p.m. and 8:53 p.m. She blocked his cell phone the same day. He emailed her a map which said, “I’m 39 minutes from you,” according to the affidavit.

He sent another email on May 24 saying, “See you tomorrow, princess.” Then sent another one seven minutes later reading,”Actually, I’ll see you tonight, princess.” Erickson said she had never agreed to meet with him and was concerned he was going to come find her.

The following day, he sent her another email, this one with a revealing photograph writing, “Answer the phone or respond to an email…please.” Erickson told the ranger she felt he was threatening her with the photograph and that if she didn’t contact him, he would send it out in an attempt to embarrass her.

She also said he used several different phone numbers to contact her as well as various iCloud email accounts to circumvent her blocking him.

On May 30, Johnston sent her three audio messages via email. In one of them, he said he understood he could go to jail for harassment and hopes she doesn’t press charges because his career as Constable would be over. Erickson also said he admitted to the use of fake numbers.

In another attempt to end the relationship and communication, Erickson sent another email on June 1 stating she didn’t want any further communication from him, but he continued and began leaving voice messages from June 8 through 18.

Erickson said he contacted her ex-husband on June 20 in what she felt was an attempt to continually harass and intimidate her into communicating with him.

Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office officials said they contacted Leitner on June 21 to conduct an investigation into the matter.

He met with Johnston at his home where he admitted to the communication with Erickson and agreed to move on.

“After my meeting with Johnston, the communication ceased,” Leitner said in his report.

Erickson said on Aug. 15, she joined a social media site. She said due to the nature of the site, she received notifications that Johnston was viewing her profile. Johnston viewed her profile 79 times from 12:06 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. then sent three direct messages to Erickson on Aug. 16.

Over the course of the following month, Erickson received 81 emails, numerous text messages and voice messages. Erickson said in one email, Johnston wrote, “This makes me long for you…I’ll never quit.”

On Aug. 25, Erickson noticed attachments in emails appeared to be connected to a tracking application. The function of the tracking application is to know when, where, how many times, and for how long an email is opened.

Johnston sent Erickson an email asking who lived at an address near her home residence.

On Aug. 31, Johnston sent Erickson an email asking, “Are you in Houston right now,” and Erickson was.

She told the ranger that this caused her great alarm for her safety.

Erickson sent Johnston an additional email on Sunday, Sept. 2 requesting all communication halt immediately.

Approximately one hour after sending the email, Johnston replied requesting Erickson allow him to communicate with her. He also sent an additional text message from a phone number Erickson didn’t recognize as being associated with him.

The emails still didn’t stop with Johnston sending three additional email messages.

Erickson contacted Leitner and filed the sworn statement complaint on Thursday, Sept. 6.

She told Leitner she feared for her safety and that of her children.

The arrest warrant was issued and executed the same day.

An arraignment date has not been set.

dtaylor@hcnonline.com

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