A female high school teacher engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy with whom she also traded nude photos, a Will County prosecutor said.
On Wednesday, Dayna Chidester, 50, of the 25400 block of O’Connel Lane in Manhattan declared her intention to resign from her position as a teacher with Reed-Custer High School in Braidwood after being confronted with allegations of exchanging text messages about drugs with a student, according to a Reed-Custer District 255 news release.
But Chidester's troubles were just beginning.
On Thursday, Chidester was arrested on charges of grooming, solicitation to meet a child, indecent solicitation of a child via the internet and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. She was booked into the Will County jail.
Chidester appeared in court on Friday via video broadcast from the jail. Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Brown detailed the sexual abuse allegations against her.
Chidester allegedly engaged in a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy. The teen resides in Manhattan and is not a Reed-Custer High School student, Brown said.
In September, Chidester and the boy communicated with each other via text messages that became sexual in nature, Brown said, and Chidester and the boy also exchanged nude photos of each other.
Brown said child pornography charges may be forthcoming against Chidester, but further investigation is pending.
Chidester allegedly confirmed that text messages and photos were sent electronically and that sexual physical contact had occurred with the boy, according to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Chidester’s head was bowed as Brown read the allegations against her. When Will County Judge Ted Jarz read the charges against her, she appeared stressed as she grasped her face with both hands.
Brown requested Chidester be held at the jail on a $2 million bond. In requesting the high bond, he pointed out she was a teacher who had contact with and authority over minors, and referenced the extent of the police investigation.
Jarz noted Chidester was a low flight risk but added that he was “very concerned about the risk to the community.”
When Jarz set her bond at $1 million, Chidester burst into tears. She needs to post 10 percent of her bond to be released from jail.
Chidester's husband and daughter attended her bond hearing. Her husband declined to comment.
As a condition of Chidester’s bond, she is not allowed to have contact with the victim, no contact with any minors outside of her family, and no contact with any schools. She is also prohibited from using the internet.
Braidwood police are also investigating allegations that Chidester exchanged text messages with a student about drugs.
On Dec. 20, a parent of a Reed-Custer High School student contacted a school resource officer with allegations that text messages related to unlawful drugs were exchanged between a student and Chidester, according to a school district news release.
Reed-Custer administrators met with Braidwood police to discuss the investigation, and the police reportedly confirmed the texts did exist, the news release stated.
District officials have barred Chidester from school property and from having contact with students.
Another teacher from Reed-Custer was also arrested on sex-related criminal charges several weeks ago.
On Dec. 4, Kevin W. Macha, 28, of Joliet was charged with possession of child pornography. Macha worked as a music teacher for the school district. He also worked as the Joliet American Legion Band director.
Reed-Custer officials are also being sued for allegedly turning a blind eye to the bullying, hazing and sexual abuse of a young, aspiring football player.
District officials said in a news release they "intend to vigorously defend these baseless allegations."