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DeKalb-Sycamore swim team competes after coach's arrest

Published: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 6:09 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014 9:21 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – All 24 girls on the DeKalb-Sycamore co-op swim team raised their hands when DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Doug Moeller asked who still wanted to compete after their coach's arrest.

The DeKalb-Sycamore co-op swim team competed in a dual meet in Elgin on Thursday afternoon, a day after head coach Leah Eames, 32, of DeKalb, posted $7,500 bail on charges alleging she had inappropriate sexual contact one of the swimmers. Police and school administrators are planning a similar meeting today with the boys swim team, which competesin the winter season.

"The message we wanted to convey is that we are here to support you emotionally, socially, and we want to maintain the continuity of the program," Moeller said.

Erin Shore, the team's assistant coach, stepped into the head coaching role and Dirk Happ, a District 428 employee who has coached swimming at the YMCA, is providing extra help. Both are filling those roles on a temporary basis while district leaders search for a permanent replacement, school administrators said. Eames started as an assistant coach for the co-op team in 2006, and became head coach around 2009, Moeller said.

Eames was charged with criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse for allegedly having sexual contact with a teenage girl between June 1 and Tuesday, court records show. She has been placed on paid leave from both her positions as a Sycamore High School math teacher and coach of the DeKalb-Sycamore co-op swim team.

Meanwhile, DeKalb police plan to finish their investigation in the next day or two unless new information comes to light, Lt. Bob Redel said.

"We're still interviewing people she's been around," Redel said.

DeKalb police began investigating Eames on Saturday, Aug. 10, when a police officer checking the Barb City YMCA, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb, after hours found Eames working out with a student, Redel said. Eames had access to the YMCA because of her position as the swim coach.

The late hour seemed curious to the officer, so police examined surveillance video from the time the two were there and saw them holding hands after the workout, Redel said.

Using the surveillance tape, police said detectives were able to identify and interview the student, and later discovered that Eames and the student had an ongoing sexual relationship.

Eames is next due in court Sept. 17. If convicted of the more serious charge, criminal sexual assault, she could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison; probation would not be an option.

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