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Local

Former probation officer being investigated

Sexual misconduct was reported

MORRISON – An investigation has been opened to determine whether a criminal prosecution is warranted after a report of sexual misconduct was made about a former Whiteside County probation officer.

Kevin Johnson, director of court services for Whiteside County, declined to comment, but he did say that the suspect, Dale Merema, was no longer employed there. He wouldn’t say when Merema left.

According to court documents, the investigation was opened because Merema is believed to have attempted “custodial sexual misconduct.”

Whiteside County State’s Attorney Trish Joyce said during a phone interview that because the matter involved a county employee, she had a conflict of interest in handling the case herself, and so she asked that a special prosecutor be appointed. The court agreed in November.

“When I received the information, I determined that there should be an investigation into whether charges should be filed,” Joyce said. “So I asked the court to appoint a special prosecutor; they’ll conduct an investigation and determine whether charges should be filed.”

The Illinois statute regarding “custodial sexual misconduct” says that probation officers commit such a crime when they engage in sexual conduct with a probationer, parolee, or releasee, or a person serving a term of conditional release who is under the supervisory, disciplinary, or custodial authority of the officer engaging in the sexual conduct.

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