Former local track coach gets probation in child sex abuse case

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by KMOV.com Staff | @KMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on January 2, 2014 at 5:48 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 3 at 8:31 AM

 (KMOV) –A former track coach at East St. Louis Senior High School was sentenced Thursday to probation for the attempted criminal sexual abuse of a teenage boy.

Earlest Johnson, 35, was charged with aggravated sexual abuse after he allegedly confessed to sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy twice in his basement at 631 N 75th Street.

Johnson allegedly made that confession to now former East St. Louis Police detective Orlando Ward. Detectives believe the abuse had been going on since the summer of 2011.

Ward changed the course of this case when he and six others were charged with felony conspiracy to distribute and possess drugs in May. Prosecuting Attorney Brendan Kelly said Ward's criminal activity impacted the case against Johnson. 

Johnson pleaded guilty to the crime, a misdemeanor, as part of negotiations in which prosecutors dismissed two felony charges of criminal sexual abuse against him.

East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks wants the people Ward helped lock up to serve proper sentences but fears that won't happen.

“That is a very big concern. The last thing you want is the victim's families to feel as if justice is being thrown out the window because of one person,” Parks said.

The East St. Louis School Distract also was upset with the plea deal and reduced charge. The district released this statement:

 “Mr. Johnson has not worked for District 189 for several years.  However, the District is aware of his arrest, and we have been interested in the outcome of the pending charges because he worked with our students at one time.  

 

As educators, we are not only concerned about the education of our students, but also about the quality of their lives and their ability to succeed after graduation.  We aggressively advocate for the removal of any person or situation that threatens the safety of children.  The requirement that Mr. Johnson register as a sex offender will prevent him from ever working in another public school.  However, it is unfortunate if the status of the arresting officer impacted the appropriate disposition of his case. We will always advocate for the rights of children over those who would choose to abuse them.”

Johnson was the assistant track coach for the East St. Louis Flyers; he was also part of a dance troupe.

Johnson will have to serve two years probation and be listed as an Illinois sex offender.

Kelly said its likely future cases will be impacted by Ward’s actions. Each case will be handled on a case-by-case basis. 

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