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Los Gatos Teacher Accused Of Inappropriate Zoom Calls With Kids, Arrested For Lewd Acts

LOS GATOS (CBS SF) -- A teacher in Los Gatos was arrested Thursday after two students reported uncomfortable Zoom interactions with him, leading to an investigation that discovered evidence of "a plethora of behavior indicative of a pedophile," according to authorities.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office said in May, a 13-year-old boy reported to deputies that his teacher made him feel uncomfortable during a one-on-one Zoom meeting. The teacher was identified as Joseph Houg, Director of the Los Gatos Youth Theater and a longtime fifth-grade teacher at Blossom Hill Elementary School in Los Gatos.

Joseph Houg
Joseph Brian Houg (Alameda County Sheriff's Office)

The victim told investigators Houg repeatedly requested to see the boy's abdominal muscles, the sheriff's office said. The boy reported another 13-year-old boy felt uncomfortable with the teacher, and that boy confirmed the account, saying Houg requested to see a pair of the boy's underwear during a one-on-one Zoom meeting.

Following those interviews, a third person came forward to report Houg touched him inappropriately when he was in fifth grade in 2008, pulling down his shorts during P.E. class and touched his abdomen and genital area, according to sheriff's office.

Thursday, detectives arrested Houg at a residence in San Jose and seized a number of electronic storage devices.

"A forensic analysis of the storage devices revealed a plethora of behavior indicative of a pedophile," said the sheriff's office. "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."

Houg was booked at the Santa Clara County Main Jail on felony Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Minor and several counts of Annoying and Molesting a Minor. He is being held on $100,000 bail.

Detectives say they are working with the school district and youth theater to ensure there are no other victims and are asking anyone that may have had any inappropriate contact with Houg to contact the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office at (408) 808-4500. The sheriff's office anonymous tip line at (408) 808-4431.

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