March 1, 2007

Improper Conduct With Student Alleged Mundelein Teacher Accused of Soliciting Pornographic Photos of Teen

By Tony Gordon Daily Herald Legal Affairs Writer

A veteran Mundelein High School teacher and athletic coach was arrested Tuesday and charged with soliciting pornographic photographs of one of his students.

Scott Lempa, 33, faces a mandatory four to 15 years in prison if convicted of child pornography.

Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Patricia Fix said Lempa, in his 12th year of teaching math at the school, received several lewd photographs of a 17-year-old student in one of his classes.

Lempa also is an assistant girls volleyball coach at Mundelein.

Fix said school officials notified Mundelein police that they suspected an inappropriate relationship between Lempa and the girl earlier this month.

They turned over several text messages between the two, Fix said, some of which featured Lempa asking the girl for photographs of herself.

Police interviewed the girl, who admitted there had been exchanges of messages of a "flirtatious" nature and that she had sent Lempa some photos.

The girl sent photographs of herself in various stages of undress, shot with a phone camera and a digital camera, Fix said.

She said police have recovered evidence from Lempa's computers that indicates he received the photos and viewed them as well as other messages in which he comments about the photos.

No physical contact between the two is believed to have occurred, Fix said, and authorities are unaware if any such conduct involving other students took place.

Mundelein police investigator Marc Hergott said Lempa admitted during his interview he "has spoken with other students outside of school." Police say their investigation remains open.

Lempa, appearing Tuesday afternoon for a bond hearing before Circuit Judge Valerie Boettle Ceckowski, said he and his wife are the parents of four children and are going through a divorce, although he continues to live in the family home at 2016 Clematis Drive in Algonquin.

Lempa told Ceckowski he intends to hire his own attorney. The judge set bond at $75,000 cash.

Hergott said Mundelein High School officials had informed him that Lempa had been suspended with pay. Ceckowski told him to have no contact with the school unless a police officer was present.

Lempa was not on campus Tuesday, interim District 120 Superintendent Linda Hanson said.

Ceckowski also barred him from having any unsupervised contact with children under the age of 17 and told him his Internet use would be monitored by court officials.

She ordered him to appear in court Friday to report on his progress in hiring an attorney.

Hanson and Athletic Director Perry Wilhelm declined to comment on the case.

School board Vice President Steve Wirt said his panel may have a statement today.

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- Daily Herald staff writer Russell Lissau contributed to this report.

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