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updated: 4/22/2014 5:22 PM

Former Lake Forest High School theater adviser pleads guilty to sex abuse charges

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  • Benjamin M. Davidson

      Benjamin M. Davidson

 
 

A former Lake Forest High School employee pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for having inappropriate sexual contact with two female students, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Benjamin Davidson, 31, formerly of Exeter Place in Lake Forest, was sentenced to 30 months probation after his negotiated plea deal in front of Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes.

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The former adviser for the high school theater tech crew also was sentenced to 150 hours of community service, and he must attend sex abuse counseling through the Lake County criminal court system and register as a sex offender in Illinois for the rest of his life, Assistant State's Attorney Fred Day said.

The sentence does not include prison time, Day said, but the victims were advised and satisfied with the negotiated plea deal.

"We talked extensively with the victims involved, and they were in agreement with the resolution," he said.

In court, Shanes said he agreed to the plea deal because of the sex abuse counselor's determined that Davidson could be rehabilitated, and because the victims approved of the sentence.

Davidson was facing 18 total charges ranging from criminal sexual assault to criminal sexual abuse for having inappropriate contact with the students, Day said. Both students were 17 at the time, but the abuse took place two years apart -- between December 2010 and January 2011, and in December 2013.

Had the case gone to trial, Davidson could have been sentenced up to 15 years in prison if found guilty of the most serious charges, Day said.

Authorities said Davidson, who now lives in North Chicago, was the school's theater manager and manager of audio/visual services at the time.

School officials received a complaint from a parent about the relationship and reported it to police, authorities said. Davidson resigned from the district when told about the complaint and the lengthy investigation.

He was free from jail after posting 10 percent of his $50,000 bail.

While on probation, Davidson also is prohibited from having illegal drugs or alcohol, contact with anyone under 18 years of age and contact with the victims.

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