Earlier this month, an Illinois man was accused of – and confessed to – abusing his position of authority as a substitute teacher to attempt to engage students in sexual relationships. Keith Aarseth used an internet messaging platform to message a 16-year-old student to attempt to convince her, on multiple occasions, to meet him at a nearby park. The girl did not show up, but the police who were monitoring her messages did. Aarseth was charged with, among other things, grooming for the offense.
What is Grooming?
Grooming is the offense of knowingly using an electronic or computer service or device to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to commit an unlawful sexual act or touching, as defined in Section 2 of the Sex Offender Registration Act. A person may also be charged with grooming for using an electronic or computer service or device to attempt to seduce, solicit, lure, or entice a child to engage in an unlawful sexual act or touching. Aarseth was charged with grooming for using an internet messaging service to contact a child to encourage her to meet him to engage in unlawful sexual conduct, in direct violation of the law. This is a serious sex crimes and will be prosecuted aggressively in Chicago.
Other examples of grooming in Illinois may include:
- Posting an ad on an online bulletin board or Craigslist site seeking sexual contact with a minor;
- Messaging a child’s parent or guardian on an internet messaging platform to encourage them to allow them to meet their child; or
- Messaging a person believed to be a child for the purpose of engaging in unlawful sexual acts, regardless of the person’s actual age.
Grooming Consequences in Illinois
Grooming is a Class 4 Felony in Illinois, punishable by one to three years in prison and/or fines of up to $25,000. The punishment may be elevated if the person travels for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor. Additionally, if a person is convicted on more than one occasion, he or she may be required to register as a sex offender with the state of Illinois.
When a person is charged with grooming, it is not unusual for the state to bring other related charges, as well. Charges related to grooming in Illinois include:
Indecent Solicitation. A person commits an indecent solicitation when he or she, being over the age of 17, commands or requests that a child under 17 perform a sexual act in person, over the phone, or through an electronic messaging service. A person may also be charged with indecent solicitation for discussing a sexual act with a child on the internet.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child. A person commits the sexual exploitation of a child if he or she, whether in person or through virtual means, engages in a sexual act or exposes him or herself in front of the child.
Luring a Minor. A person commits the act of luring a minor if he or she, being over the age of 18, electronically contacts a child under the age of 15 for the purpose of arranging a meeting for unlawful sexual purposes.
Conviction on these charges can have devastating consequences. Not only will the charges be fixed on a criminal record, but repeat offenders may be required to register with the state as a sex offender. Sex offender registration limits the freedoms and privileges a person may be able to enjoy in the future. Mr. Aarseth promptly lost his position as a substitute teacher after the school became aware of his actions. It is likely that he will have difficulties obtaining future employment – and even housing – in the future, as a direct result of a conviction for grooming in Illinois. For more information, contact the Kostopoulus Law Group or get more information at https://www.kostlaw.com.