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Article updated: 1/8/2013 2:43 PM

Former counselor pleads guilty to sexual relationship with student

By Josh Stockinger

A former guidance counselor and coach at Naperville North High School pleaded guilty Tuesday to having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student.

John Carbonaro, 35, of Warrenville, will be sentenced to 30 days of jail work release and 30 months of probation. He also must register as a sex offender for 10 years and serve a month on work detail at the sheriff's office.

Carbonaro took the plea bargain just as his trial was about to get begin in DuPage County. Judge Blanche Hill Fawell postponed a formal sentencing until Feb. 19, when Carbonaro will begin serving his jail term.

Assistant State's Attorney Anne Therieau said the victim was a female student, now 19, who had Carbonaro as a guidance counselor and played on the school softball team, which Carbonaro coached.

In the spring and summer of 2010, the two developed a friendship that involved sending each other text messages and led to the victim baby-sitting for Carbonaro's children.

"It began as a friendship relationship and became a sexual relationship," Therieau said.

On four occasions, she said, Carbonaro had sexual contact with the victim at his home. One offense occurred at night while his wife and children were sleeping, according to prosecutors.

The DuPage County Children's Center launched an investigation after a concerned parent reported rumors of an inappropriate relationship between Carbonaro and a student. Carbonaro admitted his conduct in an interview with investigators, Therieau said.

Carbonaro had worked for Naperville Unit District 203 for five years when he was charged in February 2011. The district immediately placed him on paid leave.

He also was suspended from a part-time job at Naperville Park District, where he had been a summer camp coach and range officer.

District 203 spokeswoman Susan Rice said the school was unable to immediately initiate Carbonaro's dismissal because it would have required a hearing with testimony that could have conflicted with his criminal case.

"Once the trial date was set and the state's attorney provided assurances that no additional continuances would be granted, the district acted to suspend Mr. Carbonaro without pay pending his termination hearing," she said. "He was last paid on Oct. 12, 2012."

The district fired Carbonaro on Monday, but he has 17 days to appeal the decision. Rice said officials can try to recoup money he was paid while the case was pending, and the district is now looking into those options.

Carbonaro initially was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and could have faced up to seven years in prison if convicted. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminal sexual abuse, which carries a maximum penalty of three years behind bars.

Carbonaro had no prior criminal history. His attorneys declined to comment as they left court.

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