Ex-Lake Forest theater manager pleads not guilty to sex charges - New York News

Ex-Lake Forest theater manager pleads not guilty to sex charges

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LAKE COUNTY, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

A former Lake Forest High School theater manager from North Chicago pleaded not guilty Thursday, Aug. 1, to charges of engaging in sexual acts with minors from the school and child pornography.

Benjamin Davidson, 30, was arrested June 7, and has been charged with multiple counts of criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and child pornography for allegedly soliciting a minor to be the subject of photographs of a sexual nature.

At his arraignment in Lake County Circuit Court, Judge Ted Potkonjak told Davidson that the sexual assault and child pornography charges are Class 1 felonies that carry a sentence on conviction of four to 15 years in prison and are extendable to up to 15 to 30 years.

He also said any sentences would be served consecutively.

The minimum sentence for such charges is four years.

The sexual abuse charges could bring another one to four years in prison but are also probational.

In March, Lake Forest High School officials received a complaint about Davidson's conduct from a parent of a student.

As manager of the high school drama department's audio visual services, Davidson managed a staff of student volunteers. Officials said he was in a position of authority over the victims.

The school initiated an internal investigation and reported the allegations to the Lake Forest Police Department and the Department of Children and Family Services. Davidson resigned when confronted by school officials.

Lake Forest detectives investigated the case during March, April and May, including interviews with Davidson, witnesses and potential victims, and analyzed text messages, emails, videos and photographs from a variety of digital sources.

Police said those records indicated "a consistent pattern of Davidson engaging in inappropriate and explicit text conversations of a sexual nature with students. In some cases, he describes sex acts he completed with those students."

Davidson is free on a $100,000 bond with several conditions, including that he have no contact with minors or any alleged victims in the case.

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