UPDATED 3:30 p.m. | A Ridgeview music teacher was charged Thursday with sexually assaulting at least two former high school students—including one girl who he allegedly “dated” while she was still a student.
David Rotchford of Normal faces 17 felony counts of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He appeared via videoconference in McLean County bond court Thursday afternoon.
Prosecutors said Rotchford’s criminal conduct goes back to at least fall 2012, about a year after he began teaching at Ridgeview. A former student told investigators she had a dating relationship with Rotchford, including sexual activity, starting when she was a 17-year-old at Ridgeview High School, prosecutors said. That ended around 2015.
Rotchford admitted to that relationship when confronted by McLean County sheriff’s investigators, prosecutors said.
A second former student told investigators she too had a sexual relationship with Rotchford, starting in spring 2013 when she was only 16 years old. She told police they began texting each other after a school trip to Disney.
Rotchford allegedly sent inappropriate texts to one student, who also received a photo of his penis on Snapchat, prosecutors said.
The McLean County Sheriff's Department said its investigation began in June based on "complaints of inappropriate text messages" between Rotchford and several former female students. Detectives "discovered several more incidents of criminal behavior spanning several years," the sheriff's department said Thursday on Facebook.
Prosecutors identified Rotchford as a music teacher at Ridgeview High School, where was hired as choral director in 2011. He’s also listed as a music teacher for Ridgeview Elementary School on the district’s website, as well the eighth grade girls basketball coach.
In a statement, Ridgeview Superintendent Erik Young said the district was aware of a staff member's arrest this week.
"While it is district policy not to comment on ongoing personnel matters, the district is following the situation closely and the safety of students and staff remains at all times our top priority," Young said. "The school district is in close contact with authorities and continues to investigate. The school district will have counselors and other resources available for students and staff who need them in the coming days and weeks. Students who know something which may be of relevance to the school district or to police are encouraged to call the Ridgeview District Office at (309) 723-5111 or McLean County Sheriff’s Office Detective Ian McWilliams at (309) 888-5063."
Rotchford was being held at the McLean County jail on $750,000 bond, meaning he’d have to post $75,000 to be released. He is not allowed any contact with minors.
Rotchford, who was appointed a public defender, is due back in court on Aug. 7.
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