DANVILLE — A former Danville Christian Academy student testified Wednesday that his teacher, tutor and mentor fondled him at the school on numerous occasions and once in his bedroom during his sophomore and junior years of high school.
During what he called the first of four "major incidents," the former student, now 20, recalled that in January 2008, when he was 15, he and his teacher, Mark R. List, were in List's office around 9 p.m., where List was helping him with homework. The two began wrestling and ended up on the floor with him lying on the ground and his teacher straddling his body. Then he felt the teacher's hand and later his lips on his genitals.
"I was squirming around trying to get free, but it wasn't working," he said on the second day of List's sexual abuse and assault trial in Vermilion County Circuit Court. He said he finally bit List's genitals to get him off of him.
List, 36, of Danville, faces one count of criminal sexual assault-a position of trust, a Class 1 felony; one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony; and one count of indecent solicitation of a child, a Class 3 felony.
If convicted, he 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.
While attorneys hope the trial will wrap up on Friday, they said it could go into next week.
Under questioning by Assistant State's Attorney Charles Mockabee IV, the former student said he transferred to the academy, at 428 N. Walnut St., midway during his freshman year and graduated in May 2010. He met List — then the high school teacher and an associate pastor at First Assembly of God Church, which runs the school — in 2000 when his mother began teaching preschool and later kindergarten there. List hasn't been employed by the church or school since his arrest in late January 2010.
"We were good friends," he said of List, adding the families socialized together. When he started attending the academy, List tutored him almost every night after school and agreed to teach him how to wrestle so he could defend himself because he had been picked on at his former school.
But he said things changed after List and he had "the sex talk," which List initiated, his mother condoned and he agreed to. He described an incident in which he went to List's office, and the teacher showed him pictures of naked women on a computer, and another in which List fondled himself in front of the teen.
During the second major incident when he was 16, he went to the restroom. He said he was using the restroom when List came in and began fondling him.
When Mockabee asked him how many times that occurred, he said at least 20 — both during and after school — starting when he was 15.
During the third major incident, he said List was helping him with homework in a classroom late at night, when they began wrestling. He said List pulled his shorts and boxer shorts down, and began fondling his genitals, even using lotion.
The last major incident occurred in the library late at night when he was 17. While they were wrestling, he said he felt List rubbing his bare genitals on his backside.
"I flipped," he said, adding he demanded to go home. "I felt I could honestly kill something. I felt violated."
The former student said on Dec. 23, 2010, after he and his mother and List and his family exchanged gifts after a Christmas concert at the school, he finally told his mother what had been going on. He said he later told the head minister of First Assembly of God, which runs the academy, the Department of Children's Family Services and police.
When Mockabee asked him why he didn't report the abuse earlier, he said he contemplated telling someone.
But "I couldn't do it. I knew it would be hard on the church and the school," he said, choking up. He said he wanted to see them grow.
During cross examination, defense attorney Dave Ryan tried to show inconsistencies in the former student's testimony and statements he gave to police and a psychologist back in 2010.
For example, he asked the former student whether he remembered detectives asking him if there was anything else he wanted to tell them, and he replying, "No. I'm being up front and honest."
The former student acknowledged that had occurred.
But Ryan pointed out, "You had not yet told them List had performed oral sex on you," and then questioned whether that really occurred.