Officials: Cherry Valley cop sexually assaulted teen who was in - – Rockford’s News Leader

Officials: Cherry Valley cop sexually assaulted teen who was in youth explorers program


Winnebago County's top officials say a Cherry Valley Police officer sexually assaulted a teen girl who was a member of the department's youth explorers program. 

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato says Officer Jason Personette is charged with five counts of criminal sexual assault of a victim between the ages of 13 and 17, authorities say. 

According to Winnebago County court records and officials at a Thursday news conference, Personette committed the assaults while he was an advisor for the youth explorer program. 

He says the alleged incidents happened between August 2017 and November 2017 and involved one victim who was 17 at the time of the incidents. He says the sexual assaults happened in different locations in Winnebago County. According to court records, the assaults happened at hotels, a squad car and at the police department. 

"No one is above the law. Everyone is accountable for their actions. If those actions result in a violation of criminal law, those charges will be brought when the evidence supports it," Bruscato said during a Thursday news conference. 

On Wednesday, Personette was taken in to custody and lodged in the Winnebago County Jail. He will appear before a judge Thursday afternoon. 

Cherry Valley Police Chief Robert Swank says Personette joined the Cherry Valley Police Department in 2015. Swank says Personette is on paid administrative leave. 

Cherry Valley Police say the program is no longer operating. 

Immediately following this Thursday's news conference, 13 News wanted to learn more about the explorers program in question more specifically -- who had oversight over it.

The state's attorney's office referred us to the local boy scouts chapter that works with area law enforcement for its explorers program.  

When we called the Blackhawk Area Council of Boy Scouts, it told us it hasn't been affiliated with Cherry Valley Police since 2015, two years before this alleged abuse took place. 
Back in 2012, the Blackhawk Area Council and the Cherry Valley Police Department partnered up to provide high school aged kids the opportunity to explore different career fields -- law enforcement being one of them.   

However, Blackhawk Area Council CEO Scott Seibert -- says that program dissolved back in 2015. Seibert also says Officer Personette was never a registered advisor for the explorers program. 

When we asked the state's attorney's office to clarify what entity had oversight they say Persontte received his explorer's certification from the Blackhawk Area Council. 

13 news has reached out multiple times to Cherry Valley Police to learn more about the program, but we have not heard back. 

13 News will continue to dig deeper in to this story and bring you more information as it becomes available. 


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