Teachers accused of not reporting sex abuse plead not guilty

  • Michael Vucic

    Michael Vucic

 
 
Updated 12/4/2014 2:28 PM

Two of three former Gavin Elementary District 37 teachers accused of failing to report suspected student sex abuse involving a former colleague pleaded not guilty to the charge in Lake County court Thursday.

April Courtney, 37, of Wauconda, and Michael Lanners, 38, of Lake Villa, appeared in front of two different judges Thursday where the pleas were entered on their behalf by defense attorney Barry Lewis, said Cynthia Vargas, communication director for the Lake County State's Attorneys Office.

 

The third teacher involved in the case -- John Keehan, 40, of Elgin -- is due to appear in court on the same charge and plead not guilty Wednesday, Dec. 10.

Each is charged with one class A misdemeanor count of failing to report suspected child abuse, Vargas said. If found guilty, they could be sentenced up to 1 year in jail, she said. The charge could also result in probation.

All three have been released from custody after paying the required 10 percent of their $5,000 bail.

Arrest warrants were issued for the former teachers Nov. 14 for failing to report a suspected relationship former teacher Michael Vucic was having with a Gavin South Middle School student in 2012.

A $1 million arrest warrant remains in place for Vucic, 41, of Lake Forest. Authorities said he was arrested in September in Bosnia-Herzegovina, but is fighting extradition to the U.S. Vucic, who taught social studies at Gavin South for 18 years, faces five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and five counts of criminal sexual assault.

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Authorities said the student told her grandparents earlier this year she had sexual contact with Vucic several times in 2012. The girl no longer attends the school.

Lanners, Courtney and Keehan were all former teachers at Gavin South. Keehan and Courtney were fired from their jobs in October, but Lanners has not taught there since 2002.

Authorities have not explained how Lanners knew or suspected Vucic was abusing a student, since he hadn't worked at Gavin South for at least 10 years.

Lanners was placed on unpaid administrative leave from Mundelein Elementary District 75 in September because of the investigation. District 75 Superintendent Andy Henrikson said earlier that Lanners was still on leave pending board action on his employment status.

By law, teachers are required to report suspicions of abuse or knowledge of abuse against any minor, Vargas said.

Lanners and Courtney are due in court Dec 18.

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