A longtime elementary school teacher was arrested today on suspicion of molesting a child years ago and recently making sexual advances on students via Zoom.
According to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office, Joseph Houg, a 50-year-old teacher at Blossom Hill Elementary School in Los Gatos, was booked today on felony charges of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and several counts of molestation.
Houg is being held on $100,000 bail and the investigation is ongoing.
Sheriff’s officials say they got a tip on May 14 about a 13-year-old boy claiming that the director of the Los Gatos Youth Theater made him feel uncomfortable during a one-on-one Zoom meeting. Authorities later identified that teacher as Houg.
According to the 13-year-old boy, Houg repeatedly asked to see his ab muscles. Eventually, the victim says, after several attempts to change the subject, he complied.
The 13-year-old boy told police about another kid his age who had a similar interaction with the teacher. The second victim said Houg asked to see a pair of his underwear during another one-on-one Zoom call.
While detectives pursued those two leads, a third victim reached out to say that Houg touched him sexually 12 years ago, when he was still in fifth grade. According to the third victim, Houg pulled the child's shorts down during a physical education class and touched his abdomen and genital area.
Authorities found out that Houg was still teaching fifth grade at the same school, here he had worked for the past two decades.
Detectives served a search warrant on Houg’s San Jose home, where they reported finding "a plethora of behavior indicative of a pedophile."
“Houg had multiple recordings of Zoom meetings of his class performing yoga exercises, videos of young boys changing clothes and videos and images of children in their underwear,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in an announcement of his arrest.
Sheriff’s detectives say they will continue to work closely with the school district and youth theater where Houg worked to determine if there are any more victims.
Anyone with information is asked to reach out to investigators at 408.808.4500. To report a tip anonymously, call 408.808.4431.