By Sanford SchmidtThe Telegraph
April 25, 2014
EDWARDSVILLE — A former teacher in the Bethalto School District, charged April 11 with sex assault of a child, is now facing 14 new charges in connection with seven additional victims.
Jason E. Ehlers, 36, of the 100 block of Meadow Drive, Bethalto, was charged Friday with four new counts of criminal sexual assault, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a count of indecent solicitation of a child, a count of sexual exploitation of a child and four counts of misdemeanor sexual exploitation of a child.
He was charged on April 11 with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, and two criminal sexual assault. Bail on those charges was set at $250,000. The predatory criminal sexual assault of a child charges are class X felonies, punishable by up to 13 years in prison. Prosecutors alleged the victim was under the age of 13.
Authorities said none of his crimes are related to his duties as a Bethalto School District teacher. He was also an administrator in the Southwestern School District and most recently a teacher in the Triad School Districts. He was placed on administrative leave in the Triad District and has resigned.
Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said the additional charges were filed as a result of the April 11 charges.
The most recent criminal sexual charges allege he performed four different acts of sexual acts on a 16-year-old boy between July 2, 2011 and April 1.
The abuse charge claims he performed an act of fondling with that victim. Bail on those charges was set at $150,000.
He is also accused of various acts of fondling with a boy, 16; acts of fondling with a boy, 14, with whom he held a position of authority, trust or supervision; acts of fondling with a boy, 15; and exposing himself to three other 15-year-old boys. Bail on the abuse charges was set at $100,000, bringing his total bail to $500,000.
The original victim, as well as the additional victims knew the defendant prior to the crimes, Gibbons said.
The crimes occurred at Ehlers’ home. Gibbons said no further information will be released about the victims.
“My office is committed to seeing that justice is done for every victim of such a heinous crime,” Gibbons said. “When someone victimizes children, it must be dealt with swiftly and severely so that they will no longer be able to prey upon our kids,” the state’s attorney said.
He noted that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, so that people should be reminded of the devastating impact of abuse on children.
He said the county’s Children’s Justice Division, the Bethalto Police Department and the Madison County Child Advocacy Center all worked together on the cases.