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Coach accused of sexual assault in Sycamore

Eames placed on paid leave from teaching, coaching positions

Published: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 10:56 a.m. CST
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Leah Eames

SYCAMORE – A Sycamore High School teacher who also coached boys and girls swim teams for DeKalb and Sycamore high schools is accused of sexually assaulting a girl she coached this summer.

Leah Eames, 32, of the 600 block of Haish Boulevard in DeKalb, appeared in court Wednesday on charges of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse, court records show. She has been placed on paid leave from both her positions as a Sycamore High School math teacher and coach of the DeKalb-Sycamore co-op swim team.

DeKalb police began investigating Eames on Aug. 10 after a police officer checking the Barb City YMCA, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb, after hours found her working out with a student, DeKalb Police Lt. Bob Redel said. The late hour seemed curious to the officer, so police examined the surveillance video for the time the two were there and saw them holding hands, Redel said.

Eames did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday.

The criminal charges allege Eames had sexual contact with a teenage swimmer between June and Tuesday, court records show.

Eames’ bond was set at $75,000 Wednesday in DeKalb County Court; she posted $7,500 bail and was released with orders not to have contact with the alleged victim or other minors, records show. She is next due in court Sept. 17. If convicted of the more serious charge, criminal sexual assault, she could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison; probation would not be an option.

Kathy Countryman, superintendent of Sycamore School District 427, said Eames was a second-year math teacher at the high school. Countryman said Eames was placed on paid leave Tuesday morning after Sycamore school officials were notified of the police investigation.

Countryman said administrators have been working with Sycamore police, including the school resource officer, although DeKalb police are leading the investigation. On Wednesday, administrators sent an email to staff members notifying them of the charges against Eames before sending a letter to parents district-wide, she said.

“It’s a personnel issue that, once we know more from the investigation, the board will take appropriate action,” Countryman said.

DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Doug Moeller confirmed that Eames had been placed on administrative leave from her position as swim coach, for which she received a stipend from the district.

District 427 parents who have concerns about the situation should talk with their building principal or Countryman’s office. Anyone with information about other possible victims or about the investigation should call the DeKalb Police Department at 815-748-8400.

• Daily Chronicle Sports Editor Eddie Carifio and Reporter Katie Dahlstrom contributed to this report.

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