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Local News

Joliet Central teacher had sex with teen student: cops

Police say incidents between him and the student began in 2017

A former physics teacher at Joliet Central High School was arrested and charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student whom he taught starting in 2017.

The Lemont Police Department announced that detectives arrested Thomas R. Connelly, 32, of the 10500 block of South Campbell Avenue in Chicago on a charge of felony criminal sexual assault. The charge stemmed from a series of incidents beginning in March 2017, according to a news release from the department.

Lemont Police Commander Thad Mezyk said he wasn’t exactly sure of when the last incident occurred but his department was notified of incidents between the student and Connelly into 2018. Mezyk added that investigators were able to prove a couple of instances and that Connelly could be charged with additional counts.

Joliet Township High School District 204 sent out a letter to parents and guardians on Wednesday about Connelly’s arrest.

The investigation revealed that the incidents between Connelly and the student occurred at Connelly’s former residence in the 300 block of Short Street in Lemont.

JTHS learned of the accusations Nov. 30, 2018, and immediately placed Connelly on paid administrative leave while both the Joliet and Lemont police investigated the accusations.

Upon receiving permission from the Lemont Police Department, JTHS officials directed Connelly to appear at the school district for questioning. He refused and submitted a letter of resignation effective Jan. 15, according to the district’s letter. After receiving the letter of resignation, JTHS filed an Educator Misconduct Report with the Illinois State Board of Education.

JTHS added that its officials have cooperated with both the Joliet and Lemont police departments throughout the investigation and learned Wednesday of Connelly’s arrest on a charge of criminal sexual assault.

“As always, the safety of our students is our top priority,” according to JTHS’ letter.

Connelly was transferred to the Bridgeview Court House for a bond hearing, according to the release from Lemont police.

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