© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Unit 5 Teacher Charged With Abusing First-Graders

Gavel and GLT logo

A first-grade teacher in Unit 5 was charged Saturday with sexually abusing two of his students—including one victim who prosecutors say first made her allegation 14 years ago.

Jonathan Hovey, 47, who taught at Glenn Elementary School, was charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under 13, a Class X felony. He was also charged with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under 13. Hovey, of Forsyth, was arrested Friday afternoon.

Unit 5 contacted Normal Police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in April after receiving an email from the most recent victim’s mother, claiming her daughter had recently disclosed the abuse. The girl said the abuse happened "almost every day" (over 50 times) during the 2017-18 school year, prosecutors said.

During the subsequent investigation, police learned of a second, similar allegation against Hovey from the 2004-05 school year, prosecutors said. That victim, then 7, was interviewed at the Children’s Advocacy Center, where children are brought when there has been an allegation that a child may have been sexually abused.

But no charges were ever filed in that case. Hovey continued teaching.

Hovey has taught in Unit 5 for 18 years. He was put on paid administrative leave in April 2019 when the new allegations were made, Unit 5 spokesperson Dayna Brown said Saturday. He has not been allowed back to the school since, she said.

"Current district and school administration was not employed by Unit 5 at the time of the 2005 alleged incident," Brown said. "But officials said Unit 5 cooperated with authorities at that time. Charges were not filed in 2005, and Mr. Hovey remained employed by the district."

Brown added: "We understand that these allegations are very disturbing and Unit 5 will support our families. Parents should contact the principal if they have any school-related questions."

Superintendent Mark Daniel was not available for an interview Saturday, she said. McLean County prosecutor Mary Lawson declined comment on why the 2005 allegations did not lead to formal charges.

Other Victims?

Police re-interviewed the 2005 victim, now age 21, after the new allegations emerged this year, prosecutors said.

The allegations from both girls were similar, prosecutors said. Hovey allegedly positioned his desk so that other kids in the classroom could not see when he touched the girls or they touched him, prosecutors said.

“When a NPD detective went to the classroom this summer to take pictures, his classroom is still set up in the same manner (as in 2005),” prosecutors said.

Authorities said the ongoing investigation could lead to more victims.

"Based on the allegations that the incidents happened in a school building, over a period of multiple years, Normal Police ask anyone who may have information concerning these investigations or believe they had inappropriate contact with Hovey to contact Detective Kendra DeRosa at (309) 454-9624," Normal Police said in a statement.

Hovey was being held at the McLean County jail on $100,000 bond. His attorney, Tristan Bullington, declined to comment Saturday.

The case echoed the last significant abuse case involving a Unit 5 first-grade teacher: Jon White. He's serving 60 years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting students at Unit 5's Colene Hoose Elementary School in 2004-05 and later at a school in Urbana.

Unit 5 was accused of failing to warn Urbana school officials about White's behavior in Normal, allowing him to prey on more children.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
Related Content