Baptist minister pleads not guilty in sex abuse case
Bloomington teacher is accused; another minister expresses support for him
Saturday, May 19, 2007, Peoria Journal Star
By FITZGERALD M. DOUBET
of The Journal Star WITH ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTS
BLOOMINGTON - With his hand on a Bible, James C. Love, a former Bloomington substitute teacher, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges he sedated and sexually abused four teenage boys.
Love, 37, is charged in McLean County Circuit Court with four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and four counts of aggravated battery. He is accused of sedating the boys with an anesthetic agent before abusing them.
Authorities say the boys were molested within the last five weeks at Love's home in Bloomington.
Love was arrested May 4 on charges involving one boy and was released on $10,000 bond the next day. He was again arrested the following week on similar charges involving two more boys and was indicted Wednesday on additional charges after a fourth boy leveled claims.
Love is now being held on $400,000 bond. A status hearing is scheduled for June 22.
Love entered the courtroom Friday smiling and carrying a red Bible he placed on Judge Kevin Fitzgerald's bench. Following the arraignment, he blew kisses to family members and supporters as he exited the courtroom.
Outraged relatives of the boys yelled at Love in response.
Among Love's supporters was the Rev. Frank McSwain of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington, where Love serves as a minister.
McSwain expressed support for Love and said he and other church members are focused on all families affected by this case.
"Everybody is hurting. We're concerned about all the families and those children," McSwain said.
Police are asking other children and parents to contact authorities if they suspect abuse.
Defense attorney Steve Skelton told reporters he doesn't think additional charges are a realistic concern.
If convicted, Love could face up to five years in prison on each charge of battery and seven years for each charge of sexual abuse.
Love's work with youth was cited when he received Bloomington's 2006 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award, given annually to people who exemplify the ideals of the late civil rights leader.
Love, a State Farm employee, is married and has a 14-year-old son. He also has been a substitute teacher for District 87 schools in Bloomington since 2002, and for Unit 5 schools in neighboring Normal since 2003, officials said.
Love has been removed from both school districts' substitute lists pending the outcome of the criminal charges, officials said.
Fitzgerald M. Doubet can be reached at 686-3041 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Illinois minister faces new sex charges
ASSOCIATED PRESS 05/08/2007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 05/13/2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) -- A Bloomington minister recognized for his work with youths has been accused of molesting two more children.
James C. Love, 37, was arrested Monday afternoon on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated battery. Authorities allege that he administered an anesthetic during the attacks.
Love was arrested last week on charges that he had anesthetized and molested a child under age 13. He was released Saturday from McLean County Jail after posting $10,000 bond.
Bloomington police spokesman Duane Moss said that on Monday, detectives had interviewed two more victims who came forward, which resulted in additional charges.
The children say they were molested within the past five weeks.
"There is an ongoing investigation," Moss said. "We are still doing interviews and still trying to determine if there are any other victims."
Love lacks a listed telephone number in Bloomington.
He is a minister at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington, according to the church's Web site. A message left with the church was not immediately returned this morning.
Last year, the city cited Love's work with youth when he received Bloomington's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. award, given annually to people who exemplify the ideals of the late civil rights leader, said Ernestine Jackson of the city's human relations department.
Love has been a substitute teacher for District 87 schools in Bloomington since 2002, and for Unit 5 schools in neighboring Normal since 2003, officials said. He has been removed from both school districts' substitute lists pending disposition of the criminal charges.
Love passed criminal background checks and had an impressive community service record that included coaching youth football and working with programs that seek to steer youth away from gangs, said District 87 Superintendent Bob Nielsen.
"There was nothing whatsoever that caused us concern," Nielsen said.
Accused minister faces more sex charges
By Edith Brady-Lunny
May 7, 2007 - Lee Illinois Regional Newspapers
BLOOMINGTON -- James C. Love, a substitute teacher at Twin City schools and a minister at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, was arrested a second time Monday afternoon on charges that he molested children.
Love, 37, was arrested Monday on charges of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated battery for administering an anesthetic agent for other than medical purposes.
Love was released from jail Saturday after posting $10,000 on similar charges.
Bloomington police spokesman Duane Moss said the new allegations relate to two more victims.
“Our detectives interviewed two more victims today who came forward so he’s been charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of aggravated battery,” said Moss. The students who are minors were allegedly molested within the past five weeks, said Moss.
Bloomington police spokesman Duane Moss said “this is an ongoing investigation. We are still doing interviews and still trying to determine if there are any other victims.”
In addition to his role as a fill-in teacher and minister, Love works at State Farm Insurance Cos., Moss confirmed.
District 87 Superintendent Robert Nielson said Saturday that the alleged molestation took place off school grounds. He said police have prepared school officials for the possibility that more victims may be identified.
Nielsen disclosed Monday that Love started working in District 87 schools in 2002 as a volunteer with a State Farm program that provides substitute teachers without cost to schools. The program known as SLATE, State Farm Learning and Teaching Exchange, allows teachers to attend conferences and professional development programs. Love later was hired as a paid substitute, said Nielsen.
John Pye, Unit 5 assistant superintendent of operations and human resources, confirmed Monday that Love volunteered through the State Farm program and was a paid substitute in the district. Love has substituted a total of 27 times since 2005, the majority of the time at the junior high level, said Pye.
State Farm spokesman Jeff McCollum declined to confirm if Love works for the insurance firm.
McCollum said the SLATE program has been very popular with school districts. State Farm employees undergo a criminal background check through the school district before they enter the classroom, he said.
Love was recognized in January for his role in mentoring youth. Ernestine Jackson with Bloomington’s human relations department, said Love was nominated for the award given “to people that exemplify the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King.” She said she did not know firsthand the details of the Love’s mentoring activities.
Moss asked parents and others who may have information on the case to contact Bloomington Police Detective Michael Burns at 434-2457.
Police: Man drugged, sexually abused child
Published: May 5, 2007
Pantagraph – Bloomington, Illinois
BLOOMINGTON - A Bloomington man is accused of anesthetizing and sexually abusing a child younger than 13 years old earlier this month.
James C. Love, 37, of the 1200 block of South Barker Street, was jailed Friday in lieu of posting $10,000 on charges saying he used deception to make the child take an intoxicating agent and then sexually abused the child. He is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, aggravated battery and ingestion of a controlled substance, jail officials said.
Documents filed in the circuit clerk's office didn't identify the gender of the child or the type of drug used. Further details on the incident weren't immediately available.
Ex-substitute teacher pleads guilty to federal child porn charges, Pantagraph, 9/30/08
Church expresses support for accused minister, Pantagraph, 5/9/2007