Skip to comments.Former Urbana teacher White sentenced to 48 years (molesting female students - faces more time)
Posted on 04/05/2008 1:26:41 PM PDT by Libloather
Former Urbana teacher White sentenced to 48 years
By Mary Schenk
Friday, April 4, 2008 3:33 PM CDT
URBANA A former Urbana grade school teacher was sentenced this afternoon to 48 years in prison for molesting female students.
Champaign County Judge Harry Clem sentenced Jon White, 27, of Villa Grove for aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving acts that occurred between August 2005 and December 2007 with 7- and 8-year-old girls who were students at Thomas Paine School in Urbana.
White pleaded guilty in February to eight counts that accused him of deriving sexual gratification from having the blindfolded girls put an object in their mouths as he watched.
White faced up to 56 years in prison on the Champaign County conviction. His sentencing in McLean County on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse is set for April 28.
On Thursday, prosecutors laid out more of the evidence they amassed against White in the investigation, led by Urbana police.
John Pye, superintendent of human resources for McLean County Unit 5, testified that White was suspended with pay for five days in the fall of 2004 after he admitted viewing adult pornography on a computer in his first-grade classroom at Colene Hoose Elementary School in Normal. District officials learned he was looking at it during the school day, Pye said.
Pye said in April 2005, a mother told White's principal that White had shown pictures of a young actress to her daughter, a fifth-grader, and told the girl she looked like the actress. Pye called the pictures "seductive" and said he didn't feel they were appropriate to show a fifth-grader. That incident, in combination with the computer pornography, led to White's termination.
"We believed it was showing a pattern of behavior that was inappropriate for our schools," said Pye,
Questioned by White's attorney, Carol Dison, about the reference letter that his principal at Colene Hoose wrote for him after he was fired, Pye said: "The information contained in there was factual."
In testimony designed to mitigate White's sentence, White's parents described their son as fun-loving, outgoing, caring and an easy child to raise. Joyce White said her third child was a good brother to his older, mentally and physically disabled sister. He was also a good athlete.
She and her husband Robert both said White is a great father to his daughter, who will be 2 in May.
White still faces additional time on McLean County charges
By Mary Schenk
Saturday, April 5, 2008 8:54 AM CDT
URBANA Jon White's victims will be older than he is now when the former Urbana grade school teacher gets out of prison.
The sentence by Judge Harry Clem on Friday sentenced White, 27, of Villa Grove, to 48 years, representing six years in prison for each of the eight girls White admitted that he performed acts with during 2005 and 2006 while he was their teacher at Thomas Paine School.
The maximum he could have received for the aggravated criminal sexual abuse counts to which he pleaded guilty in February was 56 years.
"What a colossal waste because Mr. White decided his physical urges took priority over the other obligations he had," Clem said.
Parents of the girls shook hands and embraced in the hall after the emotionally exhausting two-day hearing, then moved to Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz's office.
Rietz said they didn't want to talk to reporters but told her they were satisfied with the sentence and wanted to know what's next for them in terms of White's April 28 sentencing in McLean County.
White, who has been free on bond since June, was taken into custody immediately. In McLean County he faces up to 14 years for two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Prosecutors there will ask the judge to have him serve that sentence after he completes his Champaign County sentence.
Given day-for-day good time, White will be well into his 50s before being eligible for parole. His victims will all be over 30.
In imposing the sentence, Clem said the case was not about what school officials in McLean County or Urbana did or did not do when they learned about White's odd behavior, although he added: "I'm sure officials in both locations wish they had acted sooner."
Civil lawsuits on behalf of the girls a total of nine in Champaign County and two in McLean are expected against the school districts at any time.
"What this case is about is a colossal breach of the public trust," Clem said, saying White has caused parents to be less trusting of their children's authority figures.
Testimony earlier Friday from sex offender evaluator and therapist Mike Kleppin revealed that he considered White at "moderate to high" risk to reoffend.
Kleppin did extensive tests and interviews of White and relied on reports about the present cases, information about White's behavior as a teen that showed deviant tendencies, and his use of pornography as an adult.
Authorities learned that in the schools in Normal and Urbana, White engaged the girls in a "tasting game" in which he put flavored sauces on a banana and had the girls, blindfolded, lick it off the fruit. He admitted that watching that sexually aroused him.
Kleppin said White's perception was that such acts were not bad.
"He'd say, 'I had a line in my mind I was not going to cross.' That's a cognitive distortion because this behavior already crossed those lines," Kleppin said. He added that such behavior, if not interrupted, would likely be repeated and could escalate.
In a prepared statement, White apologized to the victims, their families, his teaching colleagues, the Unit 5 and District 116 school districts, citizens of Champaign-Urbana and Bloomington-Normal, his own family, and even to Clem.
"First and foremost, I apologize to each of the students. I am deeply sorry for what was done. I pray they understand they did nothing wrong and I am solely to blame," he said.
Turning to the victims' parents, he said: "It is quite possible this has affected you more than your child. I know each of you will probably never forgive me but I hope you hear me when I tell you I am ashamed of my actions."
White, his wife and his parents all sobbed when he talked about how his "thoughtless actions" will keep him from seeing his 23-month-old daughter grow up. He said his guilt for what he had done to his wife and their child was "unbearable."
In arguing for the maximum sentence for White, Rietz said it's impossible to know what lasting effect White's actions will have on the girls and how they will react when they're old enough to understand sex.
"This court must send a strong message to others who would consider using their positions of trust to take advantage of our children that this behavior will not be tolerated in our community," she said.
Rietz asked for restitution for some of the victims for days of lost work and other unspecified expenses but Clem denied that, saying there was no statutory authority for him to order it.
Defense attorney Brett Olmstead called his client a "master manipulator and a deceiver" in the way he developed the tasting game so that the children never thought it should be a secret.
But Olmstead said while the acts were terrible, "there's no denying it could have been worse." He asked for only 32 years for White.
"The children here, from their point of view, didn't participate in any sex acts," he said.
He noted that of the eight Champaign County victims, five were not receiving any counseling, two received some counseling and one is in regular counseling.
Olmstead said it was his hope for the girls that "with maturity will come a better understanding that you can't control what's in another person's mind."
But then maybe that is what they want when they start out with the picture and guilty are not BS.
“White engaged the girls in a “tasting game” in which he put flavored sauces on a banana and had the girls, blindfolded, lick it off the fruit. He admitted that watching that sexually aroused him.”
Is this the actual act? Or did he do more that wasn’t reported in order to protect the kids he assaulted?
If that’s the act; 48 years seems a lot. He needed to be dealt with but this seems overkill.
While not defending either, there is a big difference between seven year olds and seventeen year olds.
Regardless, though, a teacher should not be messing around with any student, even one of legal age, under their care.
Families shun White's apology
By Edith Brady-Lunny
URBANA -- Former teacher John White apologized at his sentencing hearing Friday for sexual misconduct involving girls at an Urbana elementary school, but the prosecutor and family members of the victims didnt believe him. | Unit 5 letter of recommendation for Jon White (PDF) | White sentenced to 48 years in prison | Letter of recommendation reaction
And the judge who sentenced him to 48 years in prison said White wasted an opportunity to be a good influence on the children in his care.
What this case is about is what a colossal waste this is because Mr. White decided that his physical urges took priority over the obligations he had, Champaign County Judge Harry Clem said.
White, 27, pleaded guilty Feb. 20 to sexual abuse of eight girls at Thomas Paine Elementary School in Urbana and two girls at Colene Hoose Elementary School in Normal. He was sentenced Friday in the Ubana case and faces sentencing later this month in the other case.
Before Clem handed down his sentence, White, 27, read a lengthy apology to victims, their families, his family and officials and teachers in Unit 5 and the Urbana school district.
I am ashamed of my actions and I am extremely remorseful, said White.
White turned to face parents and his family as he read portions of the statement. He said he is sorry for the embarrassment his actions have caused both school districts.
He apologized to his wife and 23-month-old daughter, noting he will miss seeing her grow up.
Speaking directly to the victims families who filled one side of the courtroom, White said he realized the devastations his actions had caused them.
Six of the eight Urbana families read angry and emotional victim impact statements at the hearing.
One father recalled shaking hands with White at his daughters parent-teacher conference, saying he knows what its like to hold the hand and stare in the face of evil.
Several parents looked at White as they asked the judge to impose the maximum 56-year sentence.
Whites upbringing in a loving family who helped him complete an education to become a teacher was noted by the judge.
He could have molded young minds for years into the future, said Clem.
Whites conduct in a public school classroom defies logic, said the judge.
The brazenness of this is practically beyond belief, he said.
Members of the victims families in the courtroom hugged each other after the sentencing hearing. Rietz said the state was satisfied with the sentence.
I agree he owed all those people that apology, but Im not convinced as to his sincerity, Champaign County States Attorney Julia Rietz said of Whites statement.
The only thing about this sentence is that if this kind of oddball sexual substitution gets such a draconian sentence, what is the incentive not to take it further?
“White pleaded guilty in February to eight counts that accused him of deriving sexual gratification from having the blindfolded girls put an object in their mouths as he watched.”
That’s what he plead to. That’s not what he was accused of doing, and if that’s all he did, there is NO WAY he would have plead to 48 years. ‘nough said.
PS Prosecutor took the plea so the young girls would not have to testify.
Not that I have much empathy for the bugger, but what do you give someone who actually molests a child?
This seems unusually harsh sentence.
Rapist-murderers get less.
I want to see his picture because if he is cute then he’s probably not guilty.
“Joyce White said her third child was a good brother to his older, mentally and physically disabled sister.”
What do you want to bet that the sis has already been led down the banana road?
And he probably had big plans for his daughter. pervert.
Have to wonder what he would have gotten, if he had killed someone....
There shouldn't have been any significant damage to the kids, which is what this should be about, if after discovery it was handled properly. Apparently it was the adults that actually caused the damage afterwords by making a big deal out of it with the kids instead of only with the adults that should have insulated the kids from the significance of it.
Since he copped the plea, it is a simple matter to infer that things could have been much worse.
All seems fair to me. But then again I don't have much empathy for child molestors, admittedly. Their recidivism rates are very high, too high to practice compassionate conservatism.
The guy molested 8 children. Are you of a mind that those who are convicted of assault only pay for the first crime while the rest are on the house?
If the sentencing guidelines call for 6 years in jail for this particular violation of the law, then committing that crime 8 times means 48 years. Old math, old saying. Do the crime 8 times, do the time X 8.
Operative word here is pleaded, normally a pervert cops a plea to the lesser charge. And statements made by his attorney are generally just so much garbage and have no real bearing on the facts of the case.
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