RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A Riverside school counselor was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography and planting a camera inside of a school restroom.
The suspect, 30-year-old Matthew Daniel Johnson, was a school counselor at La Sierra Academy in Riverside. He was accused of downloading and distributing child pornography over the internet by Detectives from the Fontana Police Department’s Internet Crimes Against Children found.
Johnson was also accused of placing a camera inside of a school restroom, according to the Riverside Police Department.
“We do have some digital evidence to corroborate that, and under his own admission, we believe that he did install some type of hidden recording device in a bathroom,” said Riverside Police Department Officer Ryan Railsback.
“We don’t know how long that had been going on, and we don’t know how many images or recordings were made. We do have many,” Railsback said.
The school held a meeting Thursday night to update parents, who are demanding answers about the matter. So far, parents who attended the meeting said they haven’t learned any information about which children may have been victimized or for how long.
“I would like to know how many pedophiles, sex offenders have possession of my little boys’ faces,” said Roxana Bentea, whose two sons attend the academy. “It kills me.”
Minerva Habib, another parent at La Sierra Academy, said she learned Johnson was also the chaperone on her son’s trip to a camp, where he shared a room with several students.
“This man would be with me every single second of the day,” Habib’s son, Andrew, said. Andrew said he never saw Johnson act inappropriately with any of the boys.
“This beautiful man that I looked up to is doing something this horrendous,” he said. “I just can’t believe it.”
On March 4, 2020, a search warrant was served at Johnson’s residence in Loma Linda where detectives seized multiple electronic devices.
During their investigation, detectives found evidence relating to the downloading and distribution of child pornography. Many of the images and videos depicted were reported to be of prepubescent boys.
Detectives served a search warrant at La Sierra Academy and discovered further evidence of child exploitation.
The Riverside Police Department was contacted and is actively conducting follow up investigations.
Johnson was arrested for possession of child pornography and possession of over 600 images. He was booked at West Valley Detention Center.
Parents arriving at the school Thursday told CBSLA’s Michele Gile they were horrified to hear the news.
“According to my son and the other kids, [Johnson] is always in the hallway and his office is right next to the kindergarten area, it’s right next to the bathrooms,” said parent Jolie Ramirez. “This morning there were a lot of parents. I saw fathers crying. I saw mothers that were confused.”
Ramirez said she wants answers as to why, in her words, Johnson’s door was always closed with students inside.
“He’s very involved with the youth at church, here,” she said. “Just last week I shook his hand and introduced myself because my son ran up and said that he was an amazing person, so to find this out…I wish I could go back.”
Johnson has worked at the school since 2016 but has since been fired.
Anyone with further information regarding the case was asked to contact Detective Christi Arnold of the Riverside Police Department at (951) 353-7945 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.