A Cherry Valley Police officer is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. Investigators say 35-year-old Jason Personette met the teen while supervising a program meant to get kids interested in a law enforcement career.
He’s charged with five counts of sexual assault of a minor. Police say he had a relationship with the teen between August and November of last year. Some of the incidents occurred at the department itself, Personette’s squad car, and two hotels.
“No one is above the law,” said Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato. “Everyone is accountable for their actions.”
Personette has been with the department since April 2015 snd is now on paid administrative leave. Cherry Valley Police Chief Robert Swank says he learned about the allegations last month and immediately called the Sheriff’s office.
“Any allegation we take seriously,” said Swank. “We immediately reached out the Sheriff’s department to assist with an investigation conducted by an outside agency.”
Police say Personette met the victim while he was an advisor for the Cherry Valley Police Explorers program. The program is now suspended.
“In any of the explorer programs, if anybody is mistreating you, don’t be afraid, it’ll be held confidential,” said Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana . “I do want you to reach out, that’s what we’re here for.”
Sheriff Caruana says this is an isolated incident and because an officer is the suspect, he’ll be held to a higher standard.
“If they do something to this scenario, they’re going to be held accountable, maybe even harder because they have that position of trust.”
If convicted, Personette faces up to 4-15 years in jail for each count. He will also have to register as a sex offender for life.