A 77-year-old man, who was a volunteer, has been charged after prosecutors say he inappropriately touched two children who were on a school field trip to a forest preserve near Libertyville.
Stephen D. Stroupe, 77, of Libertyville, was charged with two counts of battery, a Class A misdemeanor.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Francis DeRosa said an investigation was opened following an incident on October 4 at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in unincorporated Libertyville.
Students with Hawthorn Middle School South in Vernon Hills were on a field trip to the forest preserve.
Stroupe, who was a volunteer at the forest preserve, inappropriately touched two children participating in field trip activities, DeRosa said.
A school resource officer began investigating the case and spoke to the students on the trip.
The Lake County Forest Preserve Police Department took over the investigation but it was later transferred to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office due to a conflict of interest.
DeRosa said forensic interviews were conducted with both victims at the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center.
The first victim reported she was in a group of students doing experiments and going to different stations that were set up.
Stroupe was at one of the stations and picked the victim up and carried her to another group without her permission, DeRosa said.
DeRosa said Stroupe touched her chest and breast area and the victim said she also saw Stroupe put his hands on a boy’s shoulder.
The second female juvenile victim said Stroupe came up to her and touched her.
She was doing experiments at the stations when Stroupe stood closely behind her, DeRosa said. He walked by at one point and his hand passed across her butt, DeRosa said.
DeRosa said Stroupe went to sit down and ran his hand across the girl’s chest.
Stroupe also put his hand on the girl’s shoulder and she reported that she felt his groin up against her back, DeRosa said.
Both children told their teachers when they got back on the bus.
An arrest warrant was issued for Stroupe in June and he was processed and released on bond in late July, court records show.
During his initial court hearing earlier this month, Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak ordered Stroupe to have no contact with anyone under the age of 18 and not to perform any volunteer work.
Stroupe has pleaded not guilty to the charges and is scheduled to appear in court again on September 27.