New charges for Lake Co. teacher arrested for sex abuse

A 52-year-old Antioch Upper Grade School teacher facing criminal sexual assault charges involving a female former student in Lake County is now charged in neighboring McHenry County, police said.

McHenry County officials on Tuesday charged Wes Lee Owens, of Solon Mills in McHenry County, with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual abuse. Similar charges were filed in Lake County last week.

Owens is held in Lake County jail on $100,000 bond and is expected to appear in Lake County court Wednesday. If found guilty of the felonies, he could face up to 15 years in prison for each count, officials said.

Lake County Sheriff's officials said the McHenry County charges were filed because some of the sexual occurrences between Owens and the former student took place in Solon Mills.

Owens was charged Friday by the Lake County Sheriff's Office with two counts of criminal sexual assault after having an "inappropriate relationship" with the former student, police said.

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Mary Stanton said investigators from the Lake County sheriff's office were contacted last week by a Wheaton police detective, who received a tip Owens and the victim had a relationship in 1997, when the girl was 15.

Antioch Elementary District 34 placed Owens on paid administrative leave Aug. 31, pending the outcome of the investigation, authorities said.

District 34 Superintendent Scott Thompson said he cannot comment on Owens or his arrest because it involves personnel issues.

He said counselors have been available for students and staff, but few people have taken the offer.

"They have been accessed infrequently," Thompson said. "But we will continue to offer counseling for as long as necessary."

This marks the second District 34 teacher to be arrested in past year on sex-related charges.

In January, Kenneth Lee Johnson, 60, was arrested on child pornography charges. Johnson, who taught at Antioch Upper Grade School for 20 years, was arrested by Lake County sheriff's detectives after investigators found more than 1,000 pictures and nearly 100 video clips of children engaged in sex acts.

School officials organized a community meeting within a week of Johnson's arrest. The gathering allowed parents to vent concerns to school leaders and law enforcement representatives.

No such meeting is planned at this point in the Owens case. Thompson said the district scheduled the January meeting because Johnson had confessed to his crimes.

"If a community meeting is to be held, it would be organized by law enforcement agencies," he said.

Administrators have been trying to keep the focus on learning as the week begins, Thompson said.

"We were off to a smooth start today," he said. "We're just trying to get back to normal."

<div class="infoBox"> <h1>More Coverage</h1> <div class="infoBoxContent"> <div class="infoArea"> <h2>Stories</h2> <ul class="links"> <li><a href="/story/?id=319098">Antioch teacher charged with sex assault <span class="date">[09/04/09]</span></a></li> </ul> </div> </div> </div>

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