by Alia Arafeh, Sonali Muthukrishnan, and Lexi Kupor
Editorial Editor, National/World/Politics Editor, and Public Relations Manager
On Sep. 3, deputies arrested 50-year-old Joseph Houg, a former Blossom Hill Elementary School faculty member commonly known as Brian, for Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a minor and several counts of Annoying and Molesting a Minor. Police transported Houg from a San Jose residence to the Santa Clara County Main Jail, where he is currently held on a 100,000 dollar bail.
Houg previously worked as a fifth-grade teacher at Blossom Hill Elementary School for over 20 years. He also served as the director for Los Gatos Union School District (LGUSD) student theater productions and worked as the Artistic Director for Los Gatos Youth Theater (LGYT) — an organization he assisted in founding — during the summer for 11 years.
According to the police report, the investigation began on May 14 after a 13-year-old boy reported that he felt uncomfortable as a result of Houg’s advances during a one-on-one Zoom call in which Houg repeatedly requested to see the boy’s abdominal area. This victim reported that a second 13-year-old male had experienced a similar incident; the second victim described that Houg asked to view a pair of the boy’s underwear during a separate one-on-one Zoom call.
Following these allegations, the police received a report from a third individual who claimed that Houg pulled down his shorts and touched his abdomen and genital area around 2008, during the victim’s fifth-grade physical education class.
After executing a search warrant of Houg’s residence, detectives seized several electronic devices revealing “a plethora of behavior indicative of a pedophile,” the report stated. Recordings of Houg’s class performing yoga exercises, videos of young boys changing clothes, and videos and images of children in underwear were among the uncovered storage.
Niko Vuckovich, a Bellarmine College Preparatory 2020 graduate who performed in a multitude of LGYT productions, recounted his experiences with Houg on Twitter, explaining that “there were times he made me feel rather uncomfortable.” In his tweets, Vuckovich described three incidents of misconduct he experienced with Houg, recounting that “the feeling of discomfort never went away when I was around him.”
On Sep. 3, LGUSD Superintendent Paul Johnson sent out an email to all district families confirming that the district first heard about the criminal investigation regarding Houg at the end of the 2019-2020 school year and “took prompt action by placing [Houg] on administrative leave to remove his contact with students.” Johnson ended the email by assuring parents that “the safety of the students entrusted to our schools is our greatest responsibility, and we act decisively when anything threatens to compromise that safety.”
A later notice from Blossom Hill Elementary School Principal Lisa Reynolds explained that “the District will use whatever resources are necessary to conduct a thorough investigation” and is working to provide support measures for community parents and students.
In the aftermath of Houg’s arrest, LGYT released a statement explaining that the company “was shocked and saddened to be informed Sep. 3 of the arrest and charges filed against Brian Houg” after they received word of the allegations on Jun. 5. Houg resigned from his role at LGYT and has not had any contact with the organization since that date.
The company expressed that their “main concern is the wellbeing of children and families impacted by this announcement. We encourage all those impacted to talk with trusted adults in their lives and seek support as needed.” LGYT pledged to “continue to assist the investigation in every way possible.”
The investigation is ongoing, and the police department plans to search for further victims who have yet to report their stories. Law enforcement services will continue to work closely with LGUSD and LGYT to further their investigation. The police ask that anyone who may have had inappropriate interactions with Houg or possesses information on the case contact the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office at (408)-808-4500 or the anonymous Investigative Services tip line at (408)-808-4431.
Those in need of support can contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1(800)-(656)-(4673).