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BLOOMINGTON - A former Unit 5 teacher charged with molesting 11 children in Urbana and Bloomington may be tried first in McLean County.

Jon Andrew White, 26, of Normal faces two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving two first-graders at Colene Hoose Elementary School, Normal. White taught at Hoose from 2003 to 2005.

He also taught at Brigham Elementary School in Bloomington, but no charges have been filed involving students at that school.

Prior to the filing of the McLean County charges in March, White was arrested in Champaign County in February and charged with predatory criminal sexual assault involving nine students at the Thomas Paine Elementary School in Urbana.

McLean County prosecutors are coordinating plans for the trial for White with Champaign County.

"If the defendant demands a speedy trial, we will be ready to proceed," McLean County's First Assistant State's Attorney Kim Campbell said Wednesday.

Defense attorney Carol Dison said after an April 13 hearing in Bloomington that she believed McLean County officials intended to try White first. Dison and Brett Olmstead, both of Urbana, are White's defense team.

A June 22 status hearing is scheduled in the McLean County case. No trial date has been set.

DNA evidence in case

In documents filed in McLean County court in April, attorneys for the

defense and the state discussed DNA evidence found during a police search of White's desk in his Urbana classroom.

The defense expressed concerns that prosecutors intended to disclose that White's DNA was found on two scarves and a blindfold. Authorities believe White used the items during sexual activity with the first-grade girls.

According to prosecutors, the 11 children in both McLean and Champaign counties "give similar interviews about the 'game' the defendant would play with them as a pretext for his sexual abuse; the many victims were consistent in the details of the events and the 'rules' the defendant gave them for playing the game."

Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Brooks argued the DNA results supported her arguments that White's bond should not be reduced from the $1 million set in each county.

Judge Scott Drazewski lowered White's bond in April to $750,000 in McLean County, but his bond remains $1 million in Champaign County. White remains in Champaign County jail in lieu of posting 10 percent of the bond amounts in each case.

In April, defense counsel tried unsuccessfully to close the courtroom to the media and public for the hearing on whether White's bond should be reduced. Disclosure of the DNA results could prevent White from receiving a fair trial by an impartial jury, Dison argued.

Drazewski ruled the tests results were not relevant to the issue of bond and the hearing remained open.

If convicted of sexually assaulting one or more of the children, White could be sentenced to life in prison.


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