Cori Beard, an assistant soccer coach Vernon Hills High School in Vernon Hills, Illinois, has been accused of sexually assaulting at least two male students. Police are unsure how many other students may have been victimized, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Beard was taken into police custody on March 8 after a parent had reported the situation to law enforcement. The 28-year-old coach was charged with criminal sexual assault on March 9 pertaining to 12 separate incidents with two students. A third student has been connected to the case but no charges have been formally filed pertaining to that situation.
Vernon Hills Police Chief Patrick Kreis believes there may be more students connected to Beard's crimes.
“The investigation is still ongoing and fluid, and when it involves juvenile victims we deal with things in the most sensitive ways possible,” Kreis said, according to The Chicago Tribune. “If people have hesitancy to contact the police department, we encourage them to go to a teacher or counselor or some other third party. They should talk to someone ... Elements of these offenses include the fact that she was in a position of trust at the school, and there are high standards that come with that trust."
Police do not believe the assaults occurred on school property.
The sexual encounters occurred between December 2016 and February 2018. One or both of the students were under the age of 17 at the time.
Beard has worked as a soccer coach since 2013.
The school has since issued a statement on the matter.
“Upon learning of her possible criminal conduct involving a student, the administration, working cooperatively with the police department, took measures to assure that Beard would have no further contact with students or staff,” the school statement says, according to The Chicago Tribune. “The District 128 Board of Education will take action on Beard’s dismissal at its next meeting ... The safety and well-being of our students and staff is our top priority, and Community High School District 128 regrets the pain some individuals may be experiencing as a result of recent allegations made regarding the conduct of District 128 employee Cori Beard."
After the charges against Beard were filed, she was remanded to the Lake County jail on a $1 million bond.
Local parents expressed their concerns.
"My kids will be in high school in a few short years, and it's an eye opener for me," said mother Layne Craft, according to ABC13.
[Photo: Vernon Hills Police Department]