SYCAMORE – Adults who talked to children who police say were inappropriately touched by their gymnastics instructor testified in DeKalb County Court on Friday as prosecutors continued to press to have a jury hear their stories.
Joseph R. Hannon, 22, formerly of the 1700 block of DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, is accused of inappropriately touching six girls, all under the age of 13, while an employee of Energym in Sycamore. He has been charged with predatory criminal sexual assualt of a child involving more than one victim. If convicted, he could face life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Hannon was in the courtroom Friday as four people testified about their experience in his sexual assault case. The Daily Chronicle has agreed not to use some names to protect the victims' identities.
Prosecutors have sought to allow statements made by the children to adults and in specialized victim-sensitive interviews to be heard at Hannon's trial.
One woman testified that her daughter stopped wanting to take tumbling classes at Energym in November 2015 after a session where Hannon had touched her inappropriately.
“At that point in time, we gave the benefit of the doubt and said maybe it was an accident, but we watched fiercely at each of the succeeding tumbling classes,” the woman said.
Another woman, fighting back tears, said her daughter was uncomfortable going to gymnastics classes in June or July of 2016, but she continued to make her go because she wanted to help her daughter be more extroverted and build confidence.
After she received a call from a Sycamore police detective in December 2016, she said she asked her daughter if anything had happened. Her daughter then broke down in tears and started shaking before recounting how Hannon had groped her, the woman testified.
Another woman testified about a girl she knew, who said that Hannon grabbed her hips and pressed against her as she was getting a drink of water. Police have said that incident was caught on tape at Energym and eventually led to Hannon's arrest.
Kristin Temple, a child protection investigator for the Department of Child and Family Services, testified about her Dec. 1 interview with one of the girls involved in the case.
Although she said she had only performed around 10 child interviews once her training was complete, Temple affirmed that the interview had been conducted property and the victim was not coerced or pressured to make any statements.
Assistant State's Attorney Alicia Caplan told DeKalb County Judge Philip Montgomery that she had one more witness to call who did not show up. She said she also had planned to bring in another counselor at the Children's Advocacy Center to testify to how an interview was conducted. One of the people who conducted the interviews with child victims has left Illinois, Caplan has said.
The case is due back in court on Jan. 5 at 10 a.m. in Room 210 of the DeKalb County Courthouse.