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Former Lake Forest High School staff member charged with sexual abuse of students

Friday, June 07, 2013
Benjamin M. Davidson, 30, is shown in this mug shot provided by Lake Forest police. Davidson was charged June 7, 2013 in connection with an alleged sexual relationship with two female students under the age of 18.

Benjamin M. Davidson, 30, is shown in this mug shot provided by Lake Forest police. Davidson was charged June 7, 2013 in connection with an alleged sexual relationship with two female students under the age of 18.

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Benjamin M. Davidson, 30, of North Chicago was arrested Friday in connection with an alleged inappropriate and illegal relationship of a sexual nature with two female students under the age of 18.

The arrest warrant alleges that Davidson, of 3373 Beacon Street in North Chicago, engaged in the relationships while working as a theatre manager at Lake Forest High School. The warrant also alleges that the relationships occurred while Davidson was in a position of authority over those students.

In a statement issued Friday, Lake Forest police indicated that Davidson served as a manager of the drama department's audio visual services, managing a staff of student volunteers to support dramatic performances at the school.

Davidson faces nine criminal counts including criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and child pornography, in that, according to the release announcing the charges, "he solicited a minor to be the subject of photographs of a sexual nature."

The police release says that officials at the high school received a complaint in late March about Davidson's conduct from a student's parent, and the high school launched an investigation and reported the allegations to both the Lake Forest Police Department and the Department of Children and Family Services.

Davidson, who had worked at the school since May 2008, reportedly resigned immediately when school officials spoke with him concerning the allegations.

The release outlined an investigation by Lake Forest Police Department detectives that spanned March, April and May of this year and included interviews with Davidson, witnesses, and potential victims. As part of the investigation, detectives obtained text messages, emails, videos, and photographs from various digital sources.

According to the police release, the records obtained indicate a "consistent pattern of Davidson engaging in inappropriate and explicit text conversations of a sexual nature with students. In some cases, he describes sex acts he completed with those students."

Davidson was arrested without incident, according to the release, and transported to the Lake County Courthouse on Friday for a bond hearing. Lake Forest Police Chief James E. Held said Friday afternoon that Davidson was being held at Lake County Jail in lieu of $100,000 in bond.

District 115 issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

"In late March 2013, Lake Forest High School became aware of allegations that the high school's theatre manager may have been involved in an inappropriate relationship with a student or students. Student safety is our first priority, and we take any such allegations very seriously. When the individual was confronted by the school administration regarding those allegations, he resigned.

"School district administration alerted the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and the Lake Forest Police Department of these allegations. Additionally, in accordance with Board of Education policy, an independent investigator with criminal law experience is gathering and reviewing all relevant available information related to this matter. This review is still in process.

"Today, Lake Forest High School administrators were notified by the Lake Forest Police Department that the high school's former employee was arrested. We would like to underscore that the safety and well being of our students is our top priority. As always, our social workers and counselors are available if any student needs support. If you have any additional information, district officials encourage you to contact the Lake Forest Police Department at 847-234-2601.

"The District 115 Board of Education and administration have appreciated the support and expedited response of the Lake Forest Police Department during the investigation of these allegations."

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