CHAMPAIGN — Police are looking for a Champaign man accused of fondling an Edison Middle School student at the school in November.
Judge John Kennedy on Thursday issued a warrant for the arrest of Herbert J. Howard, 27, whose last known address was 502 S. Mattis Ave., C. He was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse for an incident that allegedly happened during school hours Nov. 8 with a 13-year-old female student at Edison, 306 W. Green St. Howard was working there as a hall monitor at the time.
Unit 4 spokeswoman Stephanie Stuart said hall monitors assist with traffic flow and discipline in school hallways. She said Howard, who's been employed by the district in that position since 2009, was placed on administrative leave as soon as the allegation came to light. That means he is prohibited from being on Unit 4 property or having contact with students or staff.
State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Howard allegedly fondled the girl over her clothing in an elevator at the school. The charge includes the element that he held a position of trust or supervision over her. Rietz said the investigation revealed the conduct happened only once.
Some days after the alleged fondling - Rietz wasn't sure how long - the girl told a family friend what had happened and that person told the girl's parent.
Stuart said school officials got word of what had happened on Nov. 18 and as required by state law, contacted the Department of Children and Family Services that same day. DCFS called Champaign police on Nov. 19, Rietz said, and a Champaign police detective interviewed the teen at the Children's Advocacy Center on Nov. 21.
Champaign police, the school district and DCFS have been investigating since then. The police sent their reports to the state's attorney's office Jan. 10.
Edison Principal Justin Uppinghouse sent a letter to Edison families on Friday telling of the warrant for Howard's arrest.
Kennedy set bond on Howard's warrant at $25,000. The offense is a Class 2 felony carrying penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison.
Anyone with information on Howard's whereabouts is asked to call Champaign police at 217-351-4545. Callers can also remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477 (TIPS); submitting tips online at http://www.373tips.com ; or texting CCTIP plus the information to 274637 (CRIMES).