Both parties in the case against a former teacher for the Diocese of Joliet, charged with traveling to meet a child and grooming, met for a private conference that could lead to a potential resolution.
On Thursday, Jeremy Hylka, 46, of Joliet, waited for about an hour in Judge Ken Zelazo’s courtroom as his attorney, a prosecutor and the judge met privately for what is known as a 402 conference, which is governed by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402.
A 402 conference is a meeting held in the judge’s chambers between defense attorneys and prosecutors to discuss the facts of the case. The judge may make a recommended sentence at the end of the conference if the defendant was to plead guilty.
No resolution was announced after Thursday’s conference. Zelazo scheduled Hylka’s case for another court hearing on Oct. 28.
Hylka faces charges of traveling to meet a child, two counts of indecent solicitation of a child, grooming and solicitation to meet a child. The charges have a sentencing range of probation or up to five years in prison.
Hylka was investigated by the Joliet Police Department over an April 27, 2021, incident where he was accused of attempting to rendezvous at a McDonald’s in Joliet with someone he met online who he thought was a 15-year-old boy.
That boy turned out to be Shane Divis, who was 19 at the time and a member of the a group called Save Our Siblings. The group posted videos on YouTube of people they claim were attempting to meet minors for sex.
The video of the incident shows two men sitting at a table when someone approaches the two and announces, “Hey, we’re a group that catches child predators online.” The man the group alleged was Hylka flees, is followed and then strips off his shirt.
The group’s vigilante sting operations – along with police investigations – has led to traveling to meet a child and grooming charges in Will County against John Resedean, 41, of Lockport, Joshua Radetski, 47, of Lake Zurich, and Jacob Schendel, 25, of Cary.
Those cases are pending in court.
As of Thursday, Save Our Siblings YouTube channel no longer has any of those videos, including the one of Hylka.
In a July 7 message on Facebook, a Save Our Siblings member wrote, “Due to intimidation both from the the suspects, and the police, I do not plan on taking on any more cases at the moment. For the safety of myself and my family. This does not mean that I am done forever!”
In the aftermath of Hylka’s charges, he was fired from his teaching position at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Lockport.
Lynne Scheffler, the school’s principal, was placed on administrative leave on May 7, 2021, while diocese officials examined the circumstances behind Hylka’s employment at the school.
On June 24, 2021, diocese spokeswoman Mary Massingale said Sheffler would not return as principal. She declined to disclose the results of the investigation, saying, “Because the investigation focused on personnel, it is confidential.”
Source: The Daily Chronicle