California theater teacher arrested after students report uncomfortable Zoom meetings

Joseph Houg, 50, of San Jose, California. [Image credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office]

An investigation was launched May 14, 2020 into a Los Gatos Youth Theater director after a 13-year-old boy came forward to report that the teacher had made him feel uncomfortable during a one on one Zoom meeting by repeatedly asking "to see the boy's abdominal muscles" until the boy eventually complied after attempts to redirect the conversation failed.


It wasn't long before another boy came forward alleging that the teacher, 50-year-old Joseph Houg had asked to see a pair of the boy's underwear during a similar one on one Zoom meeting.


A third victim came forward to investigators telling them of an incident that had occurred in 2008 while the individual was a 5th grader.  The victim alleged that during physical education class Houg had pulled his shorts down "and touched his abdomen and genital area."


Blossom Hill Elementary School in Los Gatos, California, where Houg had worked for over two decades, was made aware of the investigation in June.  At that time Houg's association with the theater group was reportedly ended.


The Santa Clara Sheriff's Office executed a search warrant on Houg's residence and seized several electronic devices for forensic evaluation.


"A forensic analysis of the storage devices revealed a plethora of behavior indicative of a pedophile," the Sheriff Department's statement read.  "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."


On September 3, Houg was arrested and charged lewd and lascivious acts with a minor and several counts of annoying and molesting a minor.  He was ordered held on $100,000 bond.


The Sheriff's Department states that this is an active and ongoing investigation and state that they are working closely with the school to determine whether there are any more victims.


They 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 or contact the Sheriff’s Office Investigative Services anonymous tip line at (408) 808-4431.


At the time of this writing, it appears as though he has bonded out of custody, and a court date could not be located for him.