IRVINE (CBSLA) – Three alleged victims of child pornography are suing members of the Seventh-Day Adventist church over a former school counselor who is accused of videotaping them in a boy’s restroom.
The complaint was filed this week against accused child pornographer Matthew Johnson, the Southeastern California Conference of Seventh Day Adventists, the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists Office of Education and La Sierra Academy.
According to the complaint, the organizations knew that Johnson had previously engaged in what attorneys say was “dangerous and inappropriate conduct with children” but continued to employ him and give him access to the alleged victims.
Johnson worked as a counselor La Sierra Academy, a private K-12 college preparatory school affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the complaint stated. The alleged victims aged 8-13 attended the Academy as students.
He was arrested in March 2020 on suspicion of possession of images of minors in sex acts as well as sending and selling obscene materials of minors on the internet, attorneys said.
Police believe he was secretly recording students with a video camera hidden in the boys’ restroom. At the time of his arrest, Johnson was in possession of more than 600 images of child pornography, according to attorneys.
Johnson is out on bail and awaiting trial.
“La Sierra Academy promises to offer its students ‘A Christ-centered Atmosphere Through Authenticity, Love and Guidance’. Yet they failed in their most basic moral responsibility to protect vulnerable children from a serial sexual predator,” said
Morgan Stewart, the victims’ attorney.