Defendant, victim seen at school at night, but not alone
DANVILLE — A former custodian at the Danville Christian Academy testified Thursday that he occasionally saw teacher Mark R. List and a male student at the school at night while making his cleaning rounds.
But the custodian, Anthony Hughes, said that on those occasions, the teacher and student weren't alone; List's wife and/or the student's mother were there, too.
Hughes was one of two defense witnesses who testified on the third day of List's sexual abuse and assault trial in Vermilion County Circuit Court. The trial is scheduled to continue today.
List, 36, of Danville, faces one count each of criminal sexual assault-a position of trust, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and indecent solicitation of a child, stemming from the student's allegations that List — his teacher, tutor and mentor — fondled him numerous times at the school and in his bedroom and performed oral sex on him "once or twice" during his sophomore and junior years of high school.
If convicted, List could be sentenced to four to 15 years in prison for the sexual assault charge, three to seven years for the sexual abuse charge and two to five years for the solicitation charge.
List also served as an associate pastor at First Assembly of God Church, which runs the school. He hasn't worked at either place since his arrest in late January 2010.
Under questioning by defense attorney Dave Ryan, Hughes said he was the custodian at the church and school, at 428 N. Walnut St., from July 2008 and July 2010. As such, he worked in both buildings from about 7 or 8 p.m. to at least 11 p.m. but usually midnight or 1 a.m. every night.
Hughes said he always walked through the buildings to make sure he knew who was there. He said the school cook also was there at night prepping for the next day one to three times a week.
On Wednesday, the former student, now 20, testified that four "major incidents," as well as others occurred around 9 p.m. in List's office, a classroom or the library, and that he and List were the only ones around.
Hughes told Assistant State's Attorney Charles Mockabee IV that the only time he saw List and the student alone in List's office was in January 2010, and the teacher was working on a computer and the teen was studying for a college class.
"I never did see anything inappropriate," said Hughes, who later acknowledged that he didn't know if anything inappropriate ever went on.
On Wednesday, the former student testified that the last incident between him and his teacher occurred in the fall of 2009.
List's wife of 15 years, Jill, testified that she routinely stopped by the church and school after she got off work at 4:30 p.m. to pick up her daughter, make evening plans with her husband and sometimes help him prepare for youth group lessons and activities. She said the student and his mother also were there three or four nights a week.
Jill List said she sometimes went home while her husband stayed at work until 10 or 11 p.m, but that only happened once a week, if that. When asked if the student was there on those nights, she said, "not always."
During his testimony on Wednesday and in his taped statement to police, which Ryan presented to the jury on Thursday, the former student said some of the incidents began with him and List wrestling. When he came to the academy midway through his freshman year, he said, he asked List to teach him to wrestle so he could defend himself because he had been picked on at his previous school.
Jill List recalled only two occasions where she saw her husband and the student wrestle, although she described it as "goofing off." Both times, she said the student came up behind her husband and tried to take him down, but her husband appeared uncomfortable and ended it.
She also said she never observed an injury to her husband's genitals. The former student testified and told police during the taped interview that in January 2008, when he was 15, he and List began wrestling and ended up on the library floor with List straddling him. He said he felt his teacher's hand and then mouth on his genitals, so he bit List's to get him off him.