Former Aurora kindergarten teacher convicted of assaulting student

  • Juan Avendano

    Juan Avendano

 
 
Updated 8/22/2021 12:12 PM

A former kindergarten teacher was found guilty Friday of sexually assaulting a student during classes at Bardwell Elementary School in Aurora.

A Kane County jury convicted Juan C. Avendano, 65, of three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault for the attacks, according to a spokesman for the Kane County state's attorney.

 

Judge Salvatore LoPiccolo revoked Avendano's bond and sentencing is set for Sept. 2.

"Despite the defendant (telling the victim) 'It's our secret,' she spoke out time and time again," Assistant Kane County State's Attorney Matt Rodgers said, calling the girl "brave" for testifying.

The girl, now 10, testified that while she was in kindergarten, Avendano would sit with her at a table where they were working on her reading skills. The table was partially concealed by file cabinets, according to the girl. He would touch her in her "private parts," she testified, and kissed her on the lips when they were in a small closet where students' backpacks were stored.

Defense attorney Gal Pissetzky argued that the girl had made up a story to avoid getting in trouble with her mother, who was known to scold her. One teaching assistant testified the girl was untruthful, that other children complained about her, and that she was disruptive and would blurt things out.

Other defense witnesses testified Avendano, a teacher in East Aurora School District 131 for 15 years, would not work with a student one-on-one without another adult in the room. The other adult would be needed to keep control of the other students, retired principal Twila Garza testified.

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But another girl testified that Avendano would rub her shoulders, under her clothing, when she was a student in his class.

He initially was charged with assaulting and abusing another kindergarten student. It is not clear from online court records what has happened to those charges.

The families of the girls have sued District 131, alleging the abuse was reported to school officials as early as 2014, but the principal and a teacher did not report it to authorities until 2018.

Former Bardwell first-grade teacher Elizabeth Aguilar was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 18 months of supervision for failing to report the abuse.

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