A traveling dance instructor who allegedly sexually abused students all around the country, including Effingham, came close to returning to jail during an Effingham County court hearing Monday.
Charles Young, 34, of Springfield, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a person under the age of consent, a Class 2 felony, and criminal sexual assault while in a position of supervision of a victim between the age of 13 and 17, a Class 1 felony.
Prosecutors allege that while Young was working as an instructor, he sexually abused a girl on Dec. 9, 2012, at a dance studio in the City of Effingham. The incident was part of a larger pattern of abuse, said Jacqueline Lazzara, an investigator with an FBI-led task force working on sexual offenses.
Young posted $2,500 and was released on Feb. 26, 2016, with the caveat that he have no contact with anyone under age 18 other than his daughter. That was violated earlier this year, Lazzara said, when Young was working in Park Ridge, a suburban Chicago community in Cook County.
That’s where Young met a woman while working on a video production, Lazzara said, and the woman mentioned using her home as a filming location. She also suggested using her 21-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son as extras in future productions. After examining the home, Young stayed there overnight with another crew member, Lazzara said. Effingham County Assistant State’s Attorney Ian Warren entered a cellphone photo showing that the boy and Young had played chess. Lazzara also told the judge that Young played football with the boy.
During all these interactions, there was another adult present, Lazzara said.
Defense attorney Beau Brindley agreed that there had been a violation, but Young had no ulterior motives.
“He didn’t set out to find this child,” said Brindley. Instead this was an accidental connection that came as part of a business deal, Brindley said.
Additionally, Young is alleged to have abused girls, not boys, Brindley said.
The state asked that Young’s bond be placed at $50,000, the original level.
Judge Amanda Ade-Harlow allowed Young to remain free on the $25,000 bond he has posted, with a five-minute explanation of what the no contact order meant.
“I am making it clear, Mr. Young, zero, zilch, nada,” she warned him.
“Does that include church, your honor?” Young asked.
As long as children are present, the judge said he cannot attend church.
“And, last I checked, houses of God exist everywhere, even in your own home,” the judge added.
After the hearing, Brindley expressed confidence that Young would be vindicated at trial.
“We’re looking forward to proving that the allegations made by the alleged victim are incorrect,” he said.
Another pretrial hearing was scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 3, where the court will hear about another alleged bail violation and other matters.
Young was originally indicted with the first charge on Dec. 16, 2015, with the second charge added on June 28 of this year.
Young faces three to 14 years in prison and a $25,000 fine in the abuse charge and four to 30 years and a $25,000 fine in the assault charge.
Graham Milldrum can be reached by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 131 or by email at email@example.com.