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posted: 8/14/2010 12:01 AM

Ex-teacher gets 7 years for sexual assault of student

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  • Wes Owens

    Wes Owens


A former teacher at Antioch Upper Grade School received the maximum sentence of seven years in prison Friday for having sex with a former student.

Lake County Associate Judge Theodore Potkonjak said Wes Owens, 53, had done too much damage to the victim for him to consider a sentence of probation.

"She still can't have normal relationships with people to this day," Potkonjak said. "That is because she is broken, and you broke her."

Owens, of unincorporated McHenry County, taught the girl in seventh grade, then hired her to be his family's baby sitter the year after she advanced from his class.

Starting in 1997 when the girl was 15 and continuing through April 1999, Owens had sex with her at his home, at Chain O' Lakes State Park and when he would take her on vacations with his family.

Lake County Sheriff's Det. Karen Kates testified a police officer in Wheaton called her office with a tip last August that Owens had been involved in an inappropriate relationship. He was arrested Sept. 4.

Kates testified she was able to locate the victim, who is now 29 and living out of state, and the woman confirmed the details.

Owens was originally charged with criminal sexual assault, but Assistant State's Attorney Mary Stanton said she agreed to reduce the charge to attempted criminal sexual assault so Owens would plead guilty.

Stanton said she did so because the victim, who did not attend Friday's hearing, did not want to go through the trauma of testifying in court.

Stanton said the victim has suffered from eating disorders and is undergoing therapy, and told Potkonjak she believed it would be "absolutely inappropriate" to sentence Owens to probation.

"A man with superior intelligence committed crimes against this child over and over and over again," Stanton said. "He abused his power and abused his trust and he should go to prison for that."

Defense attorney Albert Wysocki countered that Owens was a candidate for probation, and his abuse of the girl was fueled by his alcoholism.

Owens has been sober for five years, Wysocki said, has lost his job and his pension as a result of his arrest and needs to work to support his wife and daughter.

Owens also asked Potkonjak to spare him a prison sentence and said his wife would lose their home "very quickly" if he were locked up.

"I am not the same man I was 12 years ago," Owens said. "I suffered through that time and I made other people suffer."

Owens is also charged with criminal sexual assault in McHenry County, and was scheduled to appear in court there next week.

However, Stanton said that court date is in doubt now because Potkonjak ordered Owens taken into custody and shipped immediately to the state prison system.