DALLAS - A former teacher at Skyline High School will spend nearly a decade in prison after being convicted of an improper relationship with an underage student.
The former teacher’s victim, who is now an adult, testified at Friday’s hearing. But her behavior didn't suggest anger toward 51-year-old Darryl Johnson. It was the opposite.
The victim said she was sorry and still loved him. Prosecutors say it’s what happens when a young victim is manipulated.
The take away from this story is more than just Johnson's sentencing. This is a cautionary tale of how someone in a position of power and authority can systematically brainwash and abuse a vulnerable young child. The damage can run deep, often taking years of counseling to unravel.
Johnson was sentenced to eight years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a student at Dallas' Skyline High School when he was a teacher and coach.
Johnson family members gasped at the sentence and lashed out at the victim saying, "You will suffer."
Prosecutors say Johnson groomed the victim from the age of 14 as her teacher when she was a freshman and later began having sex with her when she was a sophomore and junior.
During the hearing, the victim, who is now in her early 20s, took the stand and said she still loved Johnson and revealed in court what she'd made specifically for him.
"I had a t-shirt made to symbolize my apology to you, which probably won't mean anything,” she said. “On this shirt, everything you will recognize. Because at some point in our relationship, there's something that we did or we said to one another."
The back of the shirt read "Happiness is not overrated." On the front of the shirt was a picture of Johnson when he was young next to the victim. Above that picture said, "always and forever.” Just below the picture was "a series of letters that stand for ‘till death do us part.’ And there were other codes on the shirt.
Prosecutors say the two used to communicate in code, like the numbers 143, which she says means "I love you." When asked why they spoke in codes, she explained.
"I knew it was wrong. He knew it was wrong,” she said. “And that was a way that we could communicate without other people catching on."
Deputy Chief Prosecutor Brandie Wade describes Johnson as a patient child predator that groomed this victim for more than six years.
"[The fact] that she made that shirt to show him is heart breaking,” she said.
The prosecutor says the t-shirt was an apology reveals the depths of the twisted mental turmoil Johnson inflicted on his victim.
"It is very difficult for her to see herself as a victim and for her to move forward past this relationship,” she said. “Hopefully with time and therapy it will help her to be able to do that."
Wade said the victim reported Johnson when she realized he had begun grooming yet another young child like herself, and she now grapples with her guilt for his crimes.
"For her, this was a very real relationship,” she said. “For him, it was a relationship where he got what he wanted and used her to gain his pleasures and what he wanted. And that is what she was there for."
The victim's mother hopes the eight-year sentence sends a message to others educators.
"Justice is served,” she said. “But maybe men and women that are messing with our children will get this in their head that this isn't right.”