Judge won't reduce $1M bail in Vernon Hills High coach sex assault case

 
 
Updated 3/13/2018 7:17 PM
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  • Cori Beard

    Cori Beard

A Lake County judge has refused to reduce the $1 million bail for a former part-time Vernon Hills High School soccer coach accused of sex acts with at least three male students.

However, Lake County Judge George Strickland on Tuesday left the door open for a lower bond for Cori Beard, 28, after authorities complete their investigation.

In deciding against changing Beard's bond, Strickland said she displays some "personality aspects of a predator." He also said the number of charges against her could increase by the time the case goes to trial.

Wearing blue Lake County jail clothing, Beard didn't speak during the hearing, but wiped a tear from her cheek when she left the courtroom after Strickland's decision.

Defense attorney Barry Sheppard talks to reporters after Cori Beard's bond reduction hearing in Waukegan. A judge refused to reduce the $1 million bail for the former Vernon Hills High School soccer coach accused of sex acts with at least three male students.
  Defense attorney Barry Sheppard talks to reporters after Cori Beard's bond reduction hearing in Waukegan. A judge refused to reduce the $1 million bail for the former Vernon Hills High School soccer coach accused of sex acts with at least three male students. - Lee Filas | Staff Photographer

Defense attorney Barry Sheppard was seeking to reduce her bond to $250,000, an amount low enough to ensure her parents would be able to have her released from jail.

"We feel this is an excessively high bond," Sheppard said after court. "She (Beard) is very, very sad. Very distraught."

Sheppard also pointed out Beard has no previous criminal record, worked a retail job in Northbrook and that she would be able to live with family members while out on bond.

"She has been extremely contrite and cooperative throughout the process," Sheppard said in court, adding there were no forced or coerced sex acts by Beard.

Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Eric Kalata said in court there are as many as six potential victims in the case, and the sex acts took place in multiple locations in Lake County. He also said sex acts occurred at her house, her parents' house and in a vehicle parked in various locations.

Kalata said authorities have spoken with three victims and intend to meet with three more possible victims this week. Saturday, police announced Beard had been charged with 12 counts of criminal sexual assault in connection with unlawful acts that occurred between December 2016 and February 2018.

If found guilty of all charges at trial, Beard could be sentenced to a minimum of 48 years and a maximum of 180 years in prison, Kalata said in court. Sentences for any guilty charges would be served consecutively because each act is a distinct, separate act from other charges, he explained.

Authorities said additional criminal charges against her could be announced in the coming weeks.

Beard was employed by Libertyville-Vernon Hills High School District 128 for three years as a part-time assistant soccer coach for both the boys and girls teams at Vernon Hills High, according to police.

She was fired Monday night after the school board voted unanimously to terminate her employment.

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