Wisconsin man wants name cleared in Allendale death

  • Justin Serak

    Justin Serak

Updated 9/19/2017 2:20 PM

A Wisconsin man previously charged in connection with the death of a teenager at a Lake Villa youth home wants the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to clear his name.

DCFS issued an "indicated" finding of neglect against Justin Serak, 29, in the March 2016 death of Shaquan Allen at the Allendale Association Lake Villa campus. The finding means the Grafton, Wisconsin man will be flagged on background checks should he ever try to work around children, his attorney Robert Ritacca said.


Serak is appealing the DCFS decision. Ritacca said he will meet with a DCFS administrative judge October 23 to have the finding overturned. If DCFS rejects the request, Serak can appeal to a circuit court judge, Ritacca said.

After a court appearance Tuesday, Serak said he now works as a carpenter in Wisconsin, but his wife is a social worker and he does not want his background to impede her employment.

Lake County prosecutors dropped a criminal obstructing justice charge against Serak in April, after he agreed to give truthful testimony against former co-defendant James Davis, 39, of Round Lake.

Davis remains in custody at the Lake County jail on $500,000 bail on charges of involuntary manslaughter and obstruction of justice stemming from the March 30, 2016 death of Shaquan, a 16-year-old from Chicago.

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Authorities said the teen died when Davis and Serak were trying to get him back to his room during a confrontation on the campus for youth with behavioral problems. Serak grabbed the teen's legs while Davis applied a chokehold, authorities say.

Lake Villa police and rescue were called at 9:58 p.m. that night in response to a reported injury. Shaquan was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, where he was pronounced dead at 11:10 p.m., officials said.

Davis and Serak initially told investigators the teen slipped on a wet floor, authorities said. But 16 witnesses contradicted those claims and Serak later admitted to police that he and Davis came up with the story to make Shaquan's death appear accidental, officials said.

Davis is due to appear in court Wednesday for a case management hearing.

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