A former Antioch grade schoolteacher was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to allegations he molested a former student in his McHenry County home about 13 years ago.
Under a plea deal struck with prosecutors, Wes L. Owens, 53, will be allowed to serve the seven-year term concurrently with another seven-year sentence handed down last month by a Lake County judge on a similar charge involving the same girl.
Owens, who resigned from his position at Antioch Upper Grade School in April after admitting to the Lake County accusations, also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life as a condition of the plea. In return for the admission to a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, McHenry County prosecutors dismissed six other felony sex charges facing Owens.
Philip Hiscock, criminal division chief for the McHenry County State's Attorney, said the victim - now in her late 20s - approved of the agreement.
Owens, of Solon Mills, was arrested in September 2009 after an investigation by police in Lake and McHenry counties unveiled claims he carried on a sexual relationship with the girl for more than two years, beginning in March 1997 when she was 15 years old, authorities said. The girl, a former seventh-grade student of Owens who went on to become his baby sitter in her teen years, told investigators she had sex with Owens multiple times both at his home and the Chain O' Lakes State Park, Lake County authorities said.
Police began the investigation after Kenneth Lee Johnson, another former Antioch teacher imprisoned on child pornography charges, told investigators last year he knew of a relationship between Owens and the girl.
Owens' attorney, Albert Wysocki, said his client took the plea deal rather than risk being found guilty at a trial and facing a sentence potentially dozens of years longer.
"(The victim) would have been a very, very articulate witness and that's something the defendant had to consider," he said.