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High School Teacher Charged With Using Internet To Entice Minor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2007

Peoria, Ill. – A Peoria, Illinois woman has been charged by complaint with using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity, as announced by Rodger A. Heaton, United States Attorney for the Central District of Illinois. Jodi Elizabeth Church, age 26, of 5916 N. Tampico, Peoria, Illinois, was arrested today and made her initial appearance in federal court in Peoria, Illinois, this afternoon. U.S. Magistrate Judge John A. Gorman ordered Church remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service pending the preliminary and detention hearing scheduled for March 15, 2007, at 10:30 a.m.

The affidavit filed in support of the complaint alleges Church engaged in an Internet chat with a minor on December 9, 2006. Church allegedly attempted to solicit a minor for sexual activity in an Internet chat which occurred on MySpace.com. According to the affidavit, Church has been employed as a behavioral teacher at Manual High School in Peoria for approximately four years.

The investigation was conducted by law enforcement agencies participating in the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s CyberCrime Unit (CICU) based in Peoria with the cooperation of Peoria Public School District 150 and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. The CICU is a multi-agency group dedicated to the investigation and prosecution of computer crime. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas A. Keith.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet as well as identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

If convicted, enticement of a minor carries a mandatory minimum statutory penalty of ten years to life imprisonment, up to life supervised release, and fines of up to $250,000.

Members of the public are reminded that a complaint is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

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