A first-grade teacher at Glenn Elementary School in Norman has been charged with sexually abusing two students. 47-year-old Jonathan Hovey was charged on Saturday, August 3 with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under 13 and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under 13.
The McClean Unit 5 school district contacted Normal Police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in April after the district received an email from the most recent victim’s mother. In that email, the mother claimed that her daughter had recently told her that Hovey had sexually abused her on an almost daily basis during the 2017-18 school year.
While police were investigating this allegation, they learned of a second sexual abuse allegation against Hovey from the 2004-05 school year. The victim, in that case, was 7 years old at the time and was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center. However, no charges were filed and Hovey continued teaching in the district.
Hovey has been a teacher at Unit 5 for 18 years. The district placed him on paid administrative leave in April 2019 after the second allegations were made.
Both victims spoke of similar allegations, saying that Hovey allegedly positioned his desk in a way that other students could not see him abusing the girls. Prosecutors said that a NPD detective went to photograph the classroom this summer and that the room was still arranged in the same way as it was in 2005. Authorities now believe there may be other victims.
Have you or someone you loved been sexually abused at school? Are you wondering “is a school is liable in sexual assault lawsuits?” Continue reading below for our lawyer commentary.
These recent allegations are not the first allegations of sexual abuse involving a Unit 5 teacher. In 2008, former Colene Hoose Elementary School teacher Jon White pleaded guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in McLean and Champaign counties. Two of the ten victims were students at Hoose, while the remaining ten were students at Thomas Paine School in Urbana. He was sentenced to 60 years in prison.
Unit 5 students have been paid over $1 million in settlements after filing sexual abuse lawsuits against the district, while Urbana students have filed lawsuits that have resulted in $2.6 million in claims. The district was accused of failing to warn officials at the Thomas Paine School about White’s predatory behavior in Normal, which may have allowed him to victimize more children.
Brian Kent is an attorney representing sex abuse victims in civil lawsuits against their abusers and third parties who have failed to keep them safe. Here are some thoughts regarding the legal options available to survivors of sexual abuse by teachers and other school staff members:
If you’re a parent, the safety of your children is likely more important to you than anything else. But we can’t always guarantee the safety of our children when they’re under someone else’s watch. When we send our kids off to school, we trust that they’ll be safe. However, this is sadly not always the case. Our nation’s schools have major problems with sexual predators abusing students under their watch.
School districts must take the threat of sexual abuse seriously. Preventative measures must be in place in order to keep students safe from sexual predators. And when students come forward concerning sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior involving a staff member, these allegations must be taken seriously and reported immediately.
Many cases of sexual abuse involving school staff members are preventable and only occur due to negligence on the part of the school district. For example, a school might be considered negligent if they had ignored previous allegations of abuse which led to additional students being abused by a staff member. In cases of negligence, victims and their families may have grounds for a lawsuit against the school district.
If you or a loved one has been sexually abused by a teacher or another school staff member, you can learn more about your legal rights by speaking with one of our experienced sex abuse victims attorneys in a free consultation.