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updated: 11/2/2010 7:46 PM

Lake Zurich teacher accused of sexually abusing student

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  • Ronald D. Culver

    Ronald D. Culver

  • Former Lake Zurich High School drama teacher Ronald D. Culver at the school's Performing Arts Center.

      Former Lake Zurich High School drama teacher Ronald D. Culver at the school's Performing Arts Center.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer 2004 FILE

  • Lake Zurich Unit District 95 spokeswoman Jean Malek, left, addresses the media Tuesday regarding the arrest of Ronald D. Culver, who taught at the district's high school. Superintendent Michael Egan, center, and police Chief Patrick Finlon listen to Malek.

      Lake Zurich Unit District 95 spokeswoman Jean Malek, left, addresses the media Tuesday regarding the arrest of Ronald D. Culver, who taught at the district's high school. Superintendent Michael Egan, center, and police Chief Patrick Finlon listen to Malek.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Lake Zurich teacher arrested

 
 

Lake Zurich Unit District 95's superintendent says shock and disbelief were among the reactions at the high school Tuesday as it became known a popular instructor was charged with sexually abusing a student.

Ronald D. Culver, 51, of the 900 block of Blackburn Drive in Inverness was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He was freed from the Lake County jail Monday night after posting 10 percent of a $10,000 bond.

Culver, who resigned from District 95 on Friday, had worked full time in English and drama at the high school since January 2002. He was honored in February 2007 by the local Chamber of Commerce as "Educator of the Year" and received the award at a Lake Zurich village board meeting while surrounded by students.

District 95 Superintendent Michael Egan described the mood of the high school during a news conference Tuesday afternoon also attended by Lake Zurich Police Chief Patrick Finlon.

"Shock," Egan said. "Disbelief. It's a sad day within the high school."

Culver's defense attorney, Stephen Simonian of Waukegan, said his client was cooperative with authorities before resigning from the high school.

"We're looking into the allegations and conducting our own investigation," Simonian said.

Finlon said the incident between Culver and the student occurred at the high school on Church Street last week.

He said an arrest warrant refers to the pupil only as "J. Doe" and declined to say whether the victim is male or female.

Lake Zurich police were summoned Oct. 28 after District 95 officials received "a disclosure" about the incident, which led to Culver's immediate removal from his job, officials said.

Finlon declined to specify who informed the district about what purportedly happened between Culver and the student.

"This is an individual that was put in a position of trust," Finlon said. "And he violated that trust."

Culver had been involved with Lake Zurich High's drama club and the production of plays. Egan said Culver was a popular teacher.

District 95 hired Culver in August 1994 as a speech and drama teacher at Lake Zurich Middle School North after he passed a background check, officials said.

He eventually became a full-time instructor at the high school.

Culver was accompanied by his attorney when he surrendered Monday at Lake Zurich police headquarters. He's to appear Nov. 18 in Lake County circuit court.

If convicted of the aggravated criminal sexual abuse charge, Culver would face a maximum of seven years behind bars.

Finlon said police continued to collaborate with District 95 on the case Tuesday. All mandated agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, have been notified about the incident, officials said.

School officials have canceled Lake Zurich High's production of "The Sparrow" that was scheduled to start Thursday, with shows running through the weekend. They cited Culver's arrest as the reason for the play's cancellation.

District 95 school board members plan to hold a special meeting Thursday to formally accept Culver's resignation.