URBANA - Brady Smith, a former Champaign middle school dean, faces the prospect of a prison sentence after a judge revoked his probation Tuesday.
Smith, 46, was convicted in a bench trial on Nov. 13, 2001, of indecent solicitation of a child for trying to get a 14-year-old boy to have sex with him on May 20 of that year. He was sentenced to three years of probation, which resulted in several letters to The News-Gazette that were critical of the sentence and prosecutor's office.
Judge J.G. Townsend on Tuesday ruled that Smith had violated terms of his probation by possessing a box of .25-caliber ammunition. The judge set a sentencing hearing for July 2. Smith could be resentenced to probation or up to seven years in prison.
In issuing his ruling, the judge said he weighed all the evidence and assessed the believability of witnesses.
?I conclude the respondent's possession (of the ammunition) was knowing,? Townsend said.
A Macon County probation officer and two former Macon County probation officers testified in the hearing that they found a box of ammunition in a search on Aug. 12, 2002, at Smith's house, 1601 Curtiss Drive, U.
Pat Berter, a Macon County probation supervisor, said he found the ammo box in a larger box in the back of a closet. Other items seized during the search included a knife, a Champaign County probation office badge, 67 photos, three money orders and several yearbooks from Franklin Middle School.
Smith, who has maintained his innocence throughout and said he agreed to plead guilty because of the cost of defending himself, was an interim dean and then dean of students at Franklin Middle School from 1994 until 2001, when criminal charges were filed. After the plea agreement, in which more serious charges were dropped, Smith's teaching license was revoked.
Smith also was a former probation officer, as he testified Tuesday in response to questions by his attorney, David Rumley, about whether he knew he could not possess any gun or ammunition.
?I was a probation officer for 10 years,? he said. ?I am well aware of the law, yes.?
Smith said the box found by the probation officers belonged to a former foster son. Smith said he moved the box, along with other items, to the closet in 1998.
The first time he saw the shells, he said, was when he was shown them by one of the Macon County probation officers.
In addition to the petition to revoke his probation, Champaign County prosecutors on Feb. 28 also filed a new charge of unlawful possession of weapons by a felon. That case is set for a pretrial hearing May 28.
Smith remains free on bond. He declined comment after Tuesday's hearing.
Meanwhile, Smith also is accused in a series of federal lawsuits of sexually molesting boys who were students at the middle school. The first trial of those suits is set to begin in June.
You can reach Steve Bauer at (217) 351-5318 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.