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TEGNA anchor accused of child sex crimes in Texas

William Johnson discusses his new role at TEGNA-owned KYTX in December 2023. (Still frame via TV broadcast)
William Johnson discusses his new role at TEGNA-owned KYTX in December 2023. (Still frame via TV broadcast)

When William Johnson joined the morning news program at East Texas CBS affiliate KYTX last year, he played up his relationship with God and his deeply-held Christian faith as a core part of his identity.

Earlier this year, a bombshell lawsuit filed against Johnson and some of his fellow fraternity brothers suggested he might have put his faith aside to commit a heinous crime.

The lawsuit, filed in Brazos County in January, alleges Johnson and three others sexually abused a young teenage boy during their time at Texas A&M University in June 2022.

The act allegedly happened at Johnson’s apartment while he was enrolled at the College Station school. In the civil lawsuit filed earlier this year, the parents of the teenager accused the church of allowing registered sex offender Daniel Savala to come into contact with children, including their then-13 year old son.

Savala was convicted in 2012 of numerous sex crimes involving children. He later moved to Texas, where he worked for several religious organizations before settling in Brazos County.

It was there that Savala molested numerous other children, according to the civil lawsuit. The incident involving the 13-year-old victim at the center of the lawsuit happened two years ago, when Savala allegedly encouraged Johnson and three others to molest the teenager as part of a ritual.

The ritual happened at Johnson’s apartment, according to charging documents made public this month. At the apartment, Johnson and the three other men — identified as Ryan Hoffart, Otto Randolph And Alexander Owens — participated in numerous sex games with the teenager, court records say.

When the civil lawsuit was filed earlier this year, Johnson was still working at KYTX (Channel 19, CBS). He denied the allegations to a local newspaper, but said he wouldn’t comment further due to the civil case against him.

A mugshot for William Johnson that was captured after his arrest in May 2024.
A mugshot for William Johnson that was captured after his arrest in May 2024. (Photo courtesy Brazos County Sheriff’s Department)

Now, Johnson and his fraternity brothers are facing another type of legal action, one that carries the real possibility of prison time.

Last week, Johnson, Hoffart and Randolph were arrested by sheriff’s deputies in Brazos County on suspicion of indecent with a child by exposure. The three men have since bonded out of custody and are awaiting trial. At the time of publication, it was not clear if any of the three were represented by lawyers. An arrest warrant is still outstanding for Owens, whose whereabouts are still not known.

Charging documents accuse the three men and Owens of exposing themselves to the teenager and rubbing him through his clothes. They go into more-graphic detail than what the civil lawsuit alleges. The details were purportedly backed by a director at Chi Alpha, who claimed all four fraternity brothers admitted to participating in sex games with the teenager.

The allegations stand in stark contrast to the public image that Johnson put forward on television, one that KYTX and the station’s parent company, TEGNA, supported until recently.

Last December, KYTX published an excerpt of an article from the local newspaper that claimed Johnson woke up each day “with a cup of java and his Bible.” In an interview with the newspaper, Johnson said his “faith is what makes me more authentic than anything else,” and that it “gives viewers a unique perspective into the kind of person I am.”

The article was still on KYTX’s website when this story was being written Sunday evening, though Johnson’s biography has since been removed from the station’s website. No one from KYTX or TEGNA has commented on the allegations again him, and it was not clear if Johnson was suspended or dismissed from the station while the case remains pending against him.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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