A woman is behind bars after allegedly pretending to be an East Texas high school student.
Charity Anne Johnson, 31, was enrolled at New Life Christian School in Longview as a sophomore. Longview police say Johnson was arrested Tuesday at an apartment in the 400 block of S. High Street. Residents told officers they had reason to believe she was lying about her age and wanted assistance in making her leave.
Officer Debra Stiles said Johnson gave officers the name "Charite Stevens" and a birth date of November 24, 1997. This is the information Johnson used to enroll at New Life Christian School.
A spokesperson for the school said Johnson was brought in to enroll with a person who was her guardian. She enrolled in the school, giving a date of birth that indicated she was 15. On Tuesday, staff at the school discovered her identification was fake. She had been a student there since October 2013.
Tamica Lincoln says back in March, Charity told her she was 15 and needed a place to stay. "I sympathized with her, and invited her into my home. I took her in as a child, did her hair, got her clothes and shoes..."
Lincoln says Charity claimed she was abused by her biological father who has since passed away, along with her biological mother. Lincoln acted as Charity's guardian and even met with Charity's 10th grade teachers at New Life Christian School.
"I just don't know why she did it. Why put yourself and others at risk to do something like this?" she wonders. "I have deep concerns about her being who we don't know she is, and then she's out there at the school."
As soon as Lincoln and Paul Ward suspected Charity was using a fake identity, they called the police and went straight to the school.
"Teachers were crying and students were crying, and her best friend just couldn't believe it."
School officials wouldn't go on camera, but they say a notice about the situation will be sent home Thursday with students. Lincoln posted a picture of Charity on Facebook, and asked if anyone knew her. The response is surprising.
"I've reached out to four different women off of Facebook that she has contacted. Florida, here in Longview, Minnesota."
None of those people want any further contact with Charity. They tell us that they hope she has time in jail to think about the pain she caused with her lies.
Johnson was arrested for failure to identify/giving false, fictitious information. She remains in the Gregg County Jail on $500 bond.
While jail records indicate that Johnson is 31, Longview police released a statement Thursday saying that she is actually 34.
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