RCHS teacher charged with sexual contact with a minor

Drug investigation also underway

DAYNA CHIDESTER
By: 
STAFF REPORT

 

The Reed-Custer School District has accepted the resignation of a consumer sciences educator, who has now been arrested on charges of inapporpriate sexual contact with a minor resulting in a $1 million bond.

Dayna Chidester, 50, who has been with the consumer sciences program at RCHS since August 2017, was arrested this week and charged for alleged sexual contact with a minor in Manhattan, where she resides.

Prior to this week's development, Chidester was under investigaiton for alleged contact with a student at Reed-Custer on accusations of drug-related activity.

On Dec. 20, a parent of a Reed-Custer High School student contacted one of the District’s School Resource Officers. The parent alleged that text messages related to illegal drugs were exchanged between a student and Chidester. The Braidwood police immediately began an investigation, which is currently ongoing.

Reed-Custer administrators met with members of the Braidwood Police Department over the holiday break to discuss the investigation. The Braidwood Police were able to advise the Reed-
Custer School District that the alleged texts did exist.

Based on information received from the police, a 10 a.m. meeting was scheduled for Jan. 2 with Chidester, Reed-Custer administrators, Reed-Custer Education Association (union) leadership, and a member of the Braidwood Police Department. According to a press release issued by the district, Chidester declared her intention to resign from her position as a Reed-Custer High School teacher during that meeting.

On Jan. 3, the Will County States Attorney’s Office informed Reed-Custer administrators that Chidester was arrested due to allegations of unlawful sexual activity not involving any Reed-Custer students.

Chidester was charged with six counts of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse, as well as one count of Indecent Solicitation of a Child and one count of Unlawful Grooming in connection with an alleged sexual relationship involving a 14-year-old male. Chidester was taken into custody Thursday by the Manhatan Police Department, and booked into the Will County Adult Detention Center.

The investigation was conducted by the Manhattan Police Department, with assistance from State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s High Technology Crimes Unit, and the Will County Sheriff’s Office. Forensic interviews, therapy, and counseling involving those affected occurred at the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.

If convicted, Chidester faces up to seven years for each count of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse, up to five years for the count of Indecent Solicitation, and up to three years for the Unlawful Grooming count.

According to the Will County State's Attorney, during the investigation, the alleged victim stated that the relationship with Chidester included messages and photos sent electronically, as well as sexual physical contact on numerous occasions. Per Glasgow's office, Chidester confirmed that text messages and photos were sent electronically and that sexual physical contact had occurred with the victim.

Bond was set at $1 million on Friday, Jan. 4. Chidester must post 10 percent, or $100,000 in cash, to secure release while awaiting trial.

Additionally, as a condition of bond, if she is able to post required amount, Chidester must refrain from contact with any minors outside of immediate family members as well as from entering school grounds, is prohibited from using the internet or any device with internet capabilities, and must turn over her passport.

The Will County State’s Attorney reminds the public that charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Per the Reed-Custer School District, based upon the information received from both the Braidwood Police Department and the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, in addition to the District accepting Mrs. Chidester’s resignation, she will not be allowed on school property and will be barred from having any contact with Reed-Custer students.