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Teacher accused of sexual abuse

A retired math teacher killed himself two days after reports were disclosed of sexual assault.

David M. Johnson, 81, Waupaca, was found hanging in his garage on Whispering Pines Road shortly before 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 28, according to 911 call logs.

On March 26, the Nicolet School District, where Johnson taught high school math from 1958 to 1991, sent a letter to former students regarding an investigation into allegations that Johnson sexually abused a student.

“The District was contacted by one of your fellow Nicolet High School alumni, who confided in us that while he was a student at Nicolet in the early 1980s, he was sexually abused by David Johnson,” the letter says. “At the time, he was a respected and prominent member of the community.”

After speaking with the former student, the Nicolet School District contacted police and hired an attorney, Joseph Russell, to conduct an internal investigation.

Russell found evidence that Johnson sexually abused the student who reported the incident and possibly a second student.

According to the investigator’s report, the student (who was identified as G) “described inappropriate sexual contact initiated by Mr. Johnson that occurred over the course of G’s junior year, on multiple weekends.”

Johnson allegedly picked G up from his home on Saturday mornings and drove him to the high school where they would go into an empty classroom.

Russell reported that Johnson closed the curtains, asked G to change into gym clothes, and instructed him to do exercises that would result in physical contact of a sexual nature.

In its March 26 letter to former students, the Nicolet School District indicated that “the District was made aware of Mr. Johnson’s misconduct during the summer of 1983, but allowed him to continue teaching at Nicolet with supervision.”

Nicolet asked that anyone personally affected by or with information about Johnson’s misconduct contact the superintendent.

Johnson was accused of similar behavior in Waupaca County after he retired here.

On April 29, 2003, Johnson was charged with two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.

According to the criminal complaint, a 36-year-old man reported to the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office that Johnson had sexually assaulted him.

The man said that he had gone to Johnson’s home to do yard work.

Johnson allegedly told him he could make more money by participating in some sort of mathematical or physiological study that involved performing exercises while Johnson measured such things as muscle tone and pulse.

At one point, Johnson grabbed the man’s leg and rubbed it against himself, the 2003 complaint says.

The man said he immediately left, but Johnson made repeated calls trying to get the man to return.

On March 21, 2003, a 25-year-old undercover officer went to Johnson’s home.

Police say Johnson invited the man into his bedroom, asked him to change into some gym shorts and to perform a variety of exercises that involved rubbing the undercover officer’s leg against himself.

Investigators reported that Johnson admitted that he became sexually aroused during the exercises.

On May 23, 2013, Johnson pleaded no contest to both counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.

Judge Philip Kirk accepted the pleas, convicted Johnson on the first misdemeanor count and assessed him $395 in fines and court costs.

Kirk withheld a judgment of conviction on the second count and ordered a deferred prosecution agreement for one year.

Conditions of the agreement included that Johnson write letters of apology to both victims, not engage in sexual contact with any person without their permission, not join or be around any fitness center, and not have sexual contact with anyone under the age of 18.

At a review hearing on June 7, 2004, Kirk found that Johnson had complied with the terms of the agreement and the second count was amended to a county ordinance violation of disorderly conduct. Johnson was ordered to pay a fine and costs of $429.

For more than 20 years, Johnson has sponsored the annual Johnson Mathematics Scholarship that gave two Waupaca High School seniors $500 each toward their college education.

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