Former East Idaho teacher accused of using students to help stalk woman
A former Hillcrest High School teacher and coach was arrested and charged Thursday for allegedly stalking and harassing a woman he had an affair with.
The victim, 26, took out a civil protection order against Bryan Lee Johnston, 50, in April after she broke off their relationship. Over the next several months she reported receiving harassing messages from Johnston. Some of the messages came from current and former Hillcrest students at Johnston’s request.
Bonneville Joint School District 93 Superintendent Chuck Shackett said the district accepted Johnston’s resignation on Aug. 8. Johnston, who was was hired in 2000, taught history and coached the boys soccer team. Shackett said he could not give further comment because it was a personnel matter.
An Idaho Falls Police Department report details the extent of Johnston’s harassment before the victim requested a civil protection order.
“She reported alarming behavior from Johnston including attempting to enter her home in the night time hours when she wasn’t home, text messages and calls from computer generated phone numbers she suspected to be him, threats to harm himself because she was calling off the relationship, him urinating on her mattress when she wasn’t home, items missing from her home, finding recorders in her bedroom... and punctured tires on her vehicle,” the report states.
The victim also reported Johnston had left harassing messages with her boyfriend and slashed his tires as well.
Police contacted Johnston in April and he agreed to stop following the victim and respect the civil protection order.
The victim called police at least eight times between May 29 and June 14 to report Johnston was following her around, primarily at a coffee shop she would visit before work.
The police report states Johnston involved a Hillcrest High School student in his attempts to call the victim on June 8. Johnston gave the female student the victim’s number and had her contact the victim under the guise of a practical joke. The student told a Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office sergeant and that she became uncomfortable with the prank.
Johnston was arrested June 8 for violating the civil protection order by visiting her house and stalking her at the coffee shop. The charges were dismissed Thursday when he was arrested for stalking.
Johnston asked three women, including two former students, to call, visit or otherwise contact the victim for him. One of the women, a coworker of the victim, said Johnston blamed the intrusions and harassment on a former student.
Police located that former student, who told officers Johnston had asked her and others to spy on the victim and do “weird things” to her. He wanted them to get license plate numbers of cars at her house so he could look up the owner with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Johnston contacted the two former students with a fake Facebook account under the name “Hyrum Powell.” One of the former students said Johnston talked about stealing the victim’s cat, and wanted them to call the victim and see if a man answered.
The other former student said Johnston asked her to take the blame for his previous harassment of the victim so the victim would think he was innocent and lift the civil protection order. Both the former students and the victim’s coworker provided police with access to messages with Johnston detailing these conversations.
The victim received a bizarre letter signed “The Puppet Master” on July 16 in which the writer indicates they are another girlfriend of Johnston’s who manipulated the victim into reporting him to police. Idaho Falls Police Department Sgt. Jon Johnson said detectives believe Johnston wrote the letter himself.
Johnston was charged with first-degree stalking, punishable with a minimum of one year and up to five years in prison. His bond was set at $25,000. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 25 in Bonneville County Courthouse.