Anna Maria Johnson. Picture: Zak Simmonds
Anna Maria Johnson. Picture: Zak Simmonds

School counsellor charged with grooming child

The wife of one of Townsville's most respected doctors has been charged with grooming a child while working as a guidance counsellor at a high school.

Anna Maria Johnson, 50, has been charged with one count of grooming a child under 16 years old and nine counts of indecent treatment of a child in 2016.

Mrs Johnson, a mother, is married to Townsville Hospital and Health Service executive director of medical services, Andrew Johnson.

Police allege Mrs Johnson met the boy while working as a guidance counsellor at a Townsville secondary school in March, 2016.

It is alleged the offending began when the pair met at the school. Police allege offending was conducted during "private counselling sessions".

It is further alleged Mrs Johnson, who was 45 years old at the time, would often meet the boy at public places, including Castle Hill and Queens Gardens, during school hours and after hours.

Townsville Child Protection and Investigation Unit took carriage of the investigation after the boy's parents became suspicious their son was regularly skipping school classes.

Police allege the offending continued for seven months, at which point the boy turned of consensual age towards the end in 2016.

It is alleged the pair kept in contact up until this year.

Mrs Johnson left her job shortly after the allegations surfaced in 2016. Police state she had been working at Relationships Australia this year.

The Department of Education confirmed Mrs Johnson was no longer an employee at the school and the safety of their students was the highest priority.

The spokeswoman declined to comment further given the matter was before the courts.

Police formally charged Mrs Johnson on August 18 after the investigation.

The first mention of the case was briefly mentioned at Townsville Magistrates Court on Wednesday, although Mrs Johnson was not present.

Defence lawyer Mathai Joshi acted on her behalf as a town agent for Brisbane law firm, Robinson O'Gorman Solicitors.

Mr Joshi said a committal brief of evidence, including a possible application to the Department of Education, would need to be prepared given the nature of the charges.

Magistrate Ross Mack adjourned the case to November.

Mrs Johnson was released on bail yesterday.

Originally published as School counsellor charged with grooming child