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School’s leader charged

Chief disappointed with VIVA! attorney response

Published: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

DIXON – An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for the president of a performing arts school on a charge of failing to report sexual abuse allegations against an instructor, police said.

Curt Schmitt, president of Dixon’s VIVA! Performing Arts School, is charged with failure to report abuse or neglect, a Class A misdemeanor that could result in a fine of $2,500.

Schmitt also is president of the Chicago-based Canterbury Foundation, which is a donor to VIVA! Canterbury and had $4.5 million in its coffers in 2012.

Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss said police have statements from more than one person indicating that Schmitt knew about abuse allegations made by a former student against VIVA! vocal instructor Robert Campbell.

In response to questions about why charges didn’t come sooner, Langloss said in a statement: “We were trying to give Mr. Schmitt every opportunity to cooperate and share his side, but he chose not to do so. Our detectives met with State’s Attorney [Anna] Sacco-Miller, presented the evidence, and she decided to file charges against him.”

In an interview Tuesday, Schmitt’s attorney, Barbara Sullivan, told Sauk Valley Media that she had instructed Schmitt and others at VIVA! not to comment on the allegations of sexual abuse.

She also called a statement made by Langloss about Schmitt “ridiculous.”

In response, Langloss said: “I am disappointed with the response from the VIVA! attorney.

“I would have expected a statement about how VIVA! has launched a full investigation into this incident and examined their policies and procedures.”

Sullivan didn’t return a call for comment Thursday.

Last week, police arrested Tim Boles, VIVA!’s director of drama. Police say Boles, too, was aware of the allegations but failed to report them.

Parts of VIVA!’s website were taken down last week, including its faculty page, which contained biographies and pictures for a number of instructors, including Boles and Campbell.

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

On Nov. 3, the student sent an email about the abuse to Dixon public schools Superintendent Michael Juenger and other district administrators, authorities said. 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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