Judge rules Hammond teacher facing sex charges must stay in jail
Post-Tribune April 11, 2013 12:40AM
A former northwest Indiana algebra teacher accused of having sex with one student and possessing sexually explicit photos of at least one more student will remain in jail after a federal judge denied his request for home detention.
At a detention hearing Wednesday afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jill Koster said she wasn’t comfortable letting Jon Erik Lilly, 27, of Cedar Lake, live at his mother’s house under home detention partly because the house is within 500 feet of Lake Central High School.
Lilly formerly taught at Morton High School in Hammond, Ind. He was arrested last month after friends of one student, identified in court records as Jane Doe 1, reported to school officials that the girl, then 17, was having sex with Lilly.
U.S. Homeland Security Investigations officials eventually found pictures of Jane Doe 1 and another student, Jane Doe 4, that they say are sexually explicit and images of two other students, Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 3, in states of undress. Koster said at the hearing Wednesday that they were investigating how old Jane Doe 2 and 3 were when the pictures were taken and that officials are still trying to identify all 10 females who were in pictures that Lilly possessed and how old they were when the photos were taken.
Lilly has still not been charged, after waiving his right to being indicted within 30 days. Koster said Wednesday that he did so because he was interested in reaching a plea agreement early and agreed to give officials more time to investigate the case. Along with charging Lilly with possession of child pornography, the government is also considering counts of production of child pornography and enticement, which comes with a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
Koster said that along with Lilly’s nearness to another high school, she was also concerned by how many victims might be involved.
“We are troubled by the number of victims,” she said.
She pointed out that Lilly could get on the Internet because a nearby restaurant’s open wireless connection reached to the front steps of his mother’s house.
Lilly’s attorney, L. Felipe Sanchez, emphasized that his client is still presumed innocent and that Lilly’s mother and other friends and family members were committed to making sure he was always supervised, never had access to a computer or cellphone and never had access to the victims or other witnesses.
“Life is often difficult; it is not impossible,” Sanchez said.
U.S. Judge Paul Cherry disagreed, however, and ruled that Lilly was a danger to the community and should remain in jail pending trial.
The next hearing, which will be either an arraignment or status update, is set for June 21.