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Former Sycamore gymnastics instructor pleads not guilty to child sexual abuse charges

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 11:56 p.m. CDT
Joseph R. Hannon

SYCAMORE – A former gymnastics instructor accused of sexually abusing girls at Energym in Sycamore where he worked pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that carry a potential penalty of life in prison.

Joseph R. Hannon, 22, formerly of the 1700 block of DeKalb Avenue, was arrested Dec. 7 on allegations that he inappropriately touched a 9-year-old girl at the gym, an incident police said was caught on video.

Later that month, prosecutors filed more serious charges related to a second victim, another 9-year-old girl.

Additional charges were filed in February after investigators conducted more victim-sensitive interviews. The total number of alleged victims is now six, all of them girls younger than age 13 who were students at Energym in Sycamore.

Hannon appeared in DeKalb County Court on Friday, where he pleaded not guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

He remains in custody at the DeKalb County Jail with bond set at $1 million. He would have to post $100,000 bail to be released.

If convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child involving more than one victim, Hannon could be sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or probation.

The charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse are punishable with sentences of three to seven years in prison.

Hannon had been arrested several times in DeKalb County and was on felony probation for an October 2013 drug case when he was hired at Energym.

The family of a girl who police believe was abused by Hannon has filed a civil suit against Energym Gymnastics Inc., the gym’s owner, Andy Morreale, and Hannon alleging negligence. Morreale has said Hannon was hired without a background check.

Hannon had taken classes at Energym, which has locations in Sycamore and Genoa, as a child. Energym hired him part time in September 2015 as a student instructor and as a full-time employee in August. Morreale also rented an apartment to Hannon near the gym.

Hannon is next scheduled to appear in court May 4.

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