Former West Aurora teacher a no-show for court as child porn trial nears

 
 
Updated 2/22/2018 10:56 AM
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  • Robert L. James faces up to 30 years in prison and registration as a sex offender if convicted.

    Robert L. James faces up to 30 years in prison and registration as a sex offender if convicted.

An arrest warrant is out for a former West Aurora High School math teacher after he was a no-show at a hearing in which prosecutors were to argue testimony from a former student who had a sexual relationship with him in 1994 be allowed at his child pornography trial.

Robert L. James, 63, of the 200 block of Lincolnway Avenue, North Aurora, was set to go on trial in early April on felony charges of possession and manufacture of child pornography and solicitation of a minor.

James failed to appear in court for a Feb. 16 hearing at the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles before Judge John Barsanti on the former student's testimony.

A bond forfeiture hearing is scheduled April 20. James posted $30,000 of his $300,000 bail after his arrest.

Attorney Robert Motta said this week he expects James at the April hearing, and declined further comment.

James, who taught math at West Aurora from August 1985 to June 2014, was charged in early 2016 with child pornography possession and solicitation.

James' attorneys have unsuccessfully argued that some of the images extracted from authorities searching his computer were benign and could not be considered child pornography.

In the latest pretrial move by prosecutors, they sought to introduce testimony from a former student -- now an adult -- who came forward after learning of James' arrest. The testimony would not go to proving the charges from 2016, but to show James' supposed motive, means and opportunity and that his conduct wasn't a simple mistake.

The woman was James' aide during her senior year, court records show.

"They went jogging together. He would let her use his car. He gave her his debit card," prosecutors wrote in their motion. "The relationship became sexual when she was 17 in approximately 1994. The defendant had her visit him at his house. He photographed her naked on his couch and later gave her the photographs, which she destroyed."

If convicted of the most severe charge, James faces up to 30 years in prison and registration as a sex offender.

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