A 34-year-old Texas woman was arrested and accused of posing as a high school student for nearly a year, as well as tricking a co-worker into taking her in, ABC News reported.
Authorities said Charity Anne Johnson was able to enroll at New Life Christian School in Longview in October 2013 after telling school officials she was home-schooled.
“She filled out a form with her birthday,” principal Stewart Newlin told the Longview News-Journal. “I didn’t ask for her birth certificate, and that is on my shoulders.”
Johnson allegedly attended classes as a sophomore at New Life using the name “Charity Stevens,” saying she was 15 years old.
“There was no reason to be suspicious,” Newlin was quoted as saying. “Usually, parents come in, they fill out the paperwork and we take their word for it. If they come from another school, you transfer records. If they come from home school, they don’t have those records.”
Seven months before enrolling at New Hope, Johnson allegedly convinced Tamica Lincoln, who worked with her at a local McDonald’s, to allow her to move in with her. Johnson told Lincoln that her parents had kicked her out of her house. Lincoln also agreed to serve as Johnson’s guardian while meeting with school officials.
“I allowed her to come into my house,” Lincoln said. “I was just trying to be nice and kindhearted and get her out of the situation she was in.”
Johnson reportedly attended classes at New Life without incident, cultivating her persona through the use of social media and making new friends. But Lincoln said she began to get suspicious after being contacted by a charity organization Johnson tried to join, saying a background check had revealed the suspect’s true age.
“I started looking into it. I contacted the manager that works at that McDonald’s,” Lincoln said. “He pulled up her file and the date of birth was 1979. The name was Charity Johnson.”
KLTV-TV reported that Lincoln also posted a picture of Johnson on Facebook asking her contacts if anyone could identify her. She was subsequently contacted by four different people, including one in Florida and one in Minnesota.
“I just don’t know why she did it. Why put yourself and others at risk to do something like this?” Lincoln was quoted as saying. “I have deep concerns about her being who we don’t know she is, and then she’s out there at the school.
Johnson was charged with giving false or ficticious information about her identity. She is in jail on a $500 bond. But police said she has not given a reason for her charade.
Watch ABC’s report, as aired on Thursday, below.