* April Courtney was jailed for not reporting sexual assault of student by fellow teacher
A middle school teacher who authorities say knew that a colleague was having sex with a student was sentenced to 30 days in jail Tuesday, July 21, 2015 for failing to report the alleged abuse.
April Courtney, 35, of Wauconda, pleaded guilty to failing to report the alleged child sexual assault of a student at Gavin South Middle School in Ingleside by fellow teacher Michael Vucic.
“The fact that he made a statement that he had sex with a child and nothing was done is abhorrent,” Lake County Associate Judge Helen Rozenberg said. “I found Ms. Courtney’s behavior outrageous and callous and led to substantial suffering by a child.”
Vucic fled the country after he was accused of having an ongoing sexual relationship with a Gavin South student, starting when she was younger than 13. He was captured in Bosnia last fall and returned to Lake County, where he awaits trial.
Vucic is accused of videotaping sexual acts with the alleged victim and another former student who came forward after his arrest and said she had a sexual relationship with Vucic, starting at age 13. Authorities said some of the videotaped acts took place in Vucic’s classroom.
After his capture, Vucic, formerly of Lake Forest, told authorities that he had told Courtney about the relationship with the student, and prosecutor Tara Ori said Courtney also confessed to investigators.
When Vucic learned he was under investigation, authorities said he arranged to meet with Courtney outside of school and gave her a bag of materials that he asked her to hold onto for him. She did not look at its contents immediately, but when she learned the bag contained tapes of recorded sex acts — at least one tape was labeled with the name of a sex act — she went to police.
Authorities have said that Courtney knew about the suspected abuse months before that incident because of statements Vucic had made to her about one alleged victim, who was for a time in one of her classes.
But Courtney’s attorney, Barry Lewis, said his client thought Vucic’s statements about the student were “all talk.” Lewis acknowledged that his client at one point told Vucic to stop, but that she might have meant he should stop making statements about the girl.
“I understand the state’s position that she had reason to know” about the alleged abuse, Lewis said after the hearing. “Her position is she really didn’t know until it was in her face. And then she did the right thing.”
Lewis said Vucic “talked all sorts of stuff, (like) ‘This student looks hot,’ or how another was dressed.” Lewis called Courtney’s actions “a mistake a person can make in good faith.”
The judge said she was “disheartened that the system let this child down” and called the case “devastating to children and the criminal justice system.”
As part of her sentence, Courtney will have to make a donation to a child advocacy group. Her teaching license is expected to be revoked after her conviction. She no longer works at Gavin South.
(via Chicago Tribune)