By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON —
A former Mt. Vernon Township High School substitute teacher received the maximum amount of probation for a sex crime committed nearly three years ago.
Sean Tolley received a sentence of 48 months’ probation from Judge Tom Dinn during a sentencing hearing held on Tuesday in a courtroom downstairs at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Tolley could’ve been sentenced from 3 to 7 years in prison.
Tolley, 36, of the 1000 block of Pace Avenue, entered an open plea in court in July 2012 to a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse — a Class 2 felony. The charge alleged that Tolley was involved in a sexual act with a student at MVTHS, who was 15 at the time of the incident. The incident allegedly happened on June 5, 2009, on Tolley’s 35th birthday, according to court records.
Tolley was arrested on Feb. 4, 2010, and was scheduled to go on trial in February 2012, prior to entering the open plea.
Special prosecutor Lorinda Lamken of the Illinois State’s Attorney’s appellate prosecutor’s office in Springfield, did not recommend a sentence for Tolley, indicating that even though she specializes in these types of cases it is not “cut and dried.” She said she has gone back and forth on what recommendations to make to the court, although she did agree with evaluators who reported the defendant was not a sexual predator.
“The defendant still had the free will and make decisions that are right, legal and moral,” Lamken told the court.
Co-counsel Jerry Crisel pointed out that Tolley has no prior criminal record, and it is unlikely the defendant would commit another crime. Crisel also pointed to reports from probation that indicated Tolley has received treatment and counseling, adding, “I think it’s succeeding. My defendant is an excellent candidate for probation.”
Tolley apologized for the incident.
“I can’t tell you how sorry I am for my conduct 3 1/2 years ago. I was a complete dunce,” Tolley told the court. “I didn’t look for deviate behavior and I am confident that it will not happen again.” Tolley also asked the court to consider family obligations — taking care of an elderly father and a son he is raising as a single father.
In passing sentence, Dinn told Tolley that in a 45-minute period he “destroyed everything that you worked for” up to that point in time in his life.
In addition to the four year probation sentence, Dinn ordered that Tolley register as a sex offender, pay fines of $2,500, and perform 300 hours of public service.
Co-counsel Scott Quinn was satisfied with the judge’s decision for probation.
“I agree with the judge that our defendant was an excellent candidate for probation. I don’t think he [Tolley] will be a problem for the citizens of Mt. Vernon and he will successfully complete his probation,” he said.