Just a few weeks before turning 34, Charity Johnson enrolled in high school.
She was in 10th grade at New Life Christian School in Longview, Texas. Back then, in October 2013, she said her name was “Charite Stevens,” and she claimed she was born in 1997 — making her only 16 years old. The truth is that she was born in 1979. Because she was a “minor,” Charity had to have a “guardian” to enroll in high school. A young woman was recruited to act in the role of her sister and helped her fill the paperwork at the school functioning out of a church and run by Pastor Stuart Newlin.
The pastor didn’t ask for Charity’s birth certificate. She claimed she was raised in a foster home because her drug-addict mom and her incarcerated dad abandoned her and she had been home-schooled by her foster family, so she didn’t have any transcripts. Many people that knew Charity were told she was abused by both her biological and foster parents. Sadly, it would seem this was an all-too-typical story, and no one thought to question her.
According to the Texas Department for Family and Protective Services spokeswoman Julie Moody, around 17,000 Texans are in foster care. Each year, 1, 300 of them age out of the system. A 2010 study revealed that by the age of 23 or 24, less than half of the foster care adults were employed, around one-fourth didn’t have a high school diploma and only 6% of them had any kind of post-graduate degree.
“Just because someone turns 18 doesn’t mean they’re ready to face the world by themselves,” Moody declares.
Eventually, Charity’s world came undone when a cop was tipped off that she was much older than she claimed, and she was arrested for intentionally giving false information to a police officer.
“I’m just a normal person … like any other normal person, trying to pursue her education, get her education and make it through life and be a better person,” Johnson declared.
“I’m not the person that some people are portraying me to be … such a bad person … or a monster … I’m a regular person that was trying to do something better with her life,” she continued.
Besides wanting so much to go to school, Charity said she posed as a child because she wanted all the care, love and attention a minor usually receives from adults. Even though she lied, Charity Johnson says she still receives help from her pastor and also her guardian. “I love them both, I care about them, I know they’re probably hurt and all … but I know it’s something that we’ll work out together.”