A teacher and camp counselor allegedly sent nude photos of himself to a child, who was actually a police officer, and intended to meet up with the child for sex, Lake County prosecutors and police said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigations Group and Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) concluded an investigation Thursday into James R. Wood, 35, of the 7500 block of Farmingdale Drive in Darien.
Undercover detectives, posing as a girl under the age of 15, communicated with Wood last month.
The conversations began after Wood engaged the “girl” on social media, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.
After learning of the girl’s age, Wood allegedly asked for nude photos of her.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsay Hicks said during a bond hearing that Wood sent explicit photos of himself to the girl.
Hicks also said that Wood told the girl during their conversations that he was a fourth-grade teacher and a youth group leader in a church.
He then proceeded to have graphic conversations with the girl and informed her that he was going to travel to Lake County to engage her in a sexual encounter, Covelli said.
Sheriff’s detectives obtained an arrest warrant for Wood on Thursday for three counts of grooming, a Class 4 felony.
Wood was arrested by sheriff’s detectives at his place of employment in Naperville without incident later the same day.
A further investigation showed Wood was planning to travel to meet the “girl” to engage in a sexual relationship but he could not find the time after starting a new job, Covelli said.
Wood recently worked as a camp counselor and substitute teacher in the Darien area, Covelli said.
The sheriff’s office said anyone whose child may have interacted with the man should contact their local police department.
“We cannot stress this enough – please do not let your children communicate on social media applications with anyone, unless you as their parent or guardian have personally verified it is someone they know. Predators use every day social media applications to prey on children of all ages from all communities,” Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.
Wood appeared in court Friday morning and Lake County Judge Raymond Collins ordered him held on a $100,000 bond.
Collins ordered Wood not to have any contact with anyone under 18 and also have no contact with any schools or daycares as part of his bond conditions.
He would need to post $10,000 cash in order to be released from the Lake County Jail.
Wood is scheduled to appear in court again on July 26.