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Police: VIVA! employee knew about sex abuse

Suspect worked with high school theater department

Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell

DIXON — At least one high-level VIVA! Performing Arts employee knew about a vocal instructor's alleged sex abuse as early as this spring, police say.

Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said that during the investigation into the sex abuse allegations against 31-year-old Robert Campbell, an interview with VIVA!'s director of drama Tim Boles revealed that Boles had previously been made aware of the abuse.

According to Langloss, Boles told investigators that this spring the now-17-year-old male student told him of the alleged abuse, but the student asked him not to tell anyone, so he didn't.

Calls to Boles by Sauk Valley Media on Wednesday went unanswered, as have many calls made to VIVA! since Campbell's Nov. 4 arrest.

As of Wednesday evening, Campbell's photograph and bio still were listed on VIVA!'s faculty web page.

Langloss said that even after the student told Boles about the alleged abuse, Campbell continued to actively work with minors through VIVA! programs, as well as during private lessons.

Boles never told school officials or authorities about the allegations, Langloss said.

Langloss said police have statements from more than one person indicating that the president of VIVA!'s board of directors, Curtt Schmidtt, also knew about the allegations.

Throughout the course of the investigation, Langloss said, police have made numerous attempts to speak with Schmidtt, but those calls, too, have gone unanswered.

Until recently, VIVA! was working with Dixon High School on a performance, but since the allegations, Langloss said, the school has "cut VIVA! out entirely." In the past, Langloss said, Campbell worked with the high school's theater department as an independent contractor through VIVA!

On Nov. 5, one day after Campbell's arrest, a meeting was held between school officials, police, and parents of students involved in Dixon High School's theater program to provide basic information about the case and also educate parents on how to speak with their children about it.

Dixon Police brought in a therapist they contract through Dixon's Shining Star Children's Advocacy Center to talk to parents about opening up a dialogue with their children about sex abuse.

"There's always a possibility that there are more victims," Langloss said.

The disbelieving public response to the charges, including from some of the members of the audience that night, Langloss said, is not unusual.

"When an allegation is made against a very likable and trusting person, people have a hard time believing the person suspected is capable of such an act," Langloss said. "Those types of responses are exactly why people don't disclose; they're afraid nobody's going to believe them, or that they're going to be blamed."

Campbell is charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against one of his former students.

Police say that during the summer of 2012, Campbell abused a then-16-year-old male student, and that the abuse occurred at VIVA!.

Authorities say that on Nov. 3, the student sent an email about the abuse to Dixon Public Schools Superintendent Michael Juenger, as well as to other district administrators. Langloss said Juenger immediately contacted him, and the investigation began.

Campbell was arrested just after 5 p.m. the next day; he bonded out of jail on Nov. 5.

He is set to appear in court Dec. 11.

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