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John C. Vastis, Buffalo Grove teacher, charged with receiving, producing child porn

A Buffalo Grove middle school teacher was arrested on federal charges for allegedly receiving and persuading a minor to produce child pornography, officials said.
Thursday, August 28, 2014
John C. Vastis, a Buffalo Grove middle school teacher, was arrested on federal charges for allegedly receiving and persuading a minor to produce child pornography, officials said.

Vastis, 51, was arrested Thursday at his home in Lakemoor after an executed search warrant of the residence of a 17-year-old suspected of being involved in distribution of child porn, police said. The minor said he had allegedly communicated with Vastis, known as "Pete," via Skype and text messages, according to the affidavit. In these conversations, the charges allege that Vastis persuaded the minor to produce pornographic pictures of himself on Jan. 18 and March 3 as well as a video on July 13.

"Nothing bad was said about him, so, I know that students liked him overall," said Tami Baba, parent.

Students returned to Meridian Middle School on Thursday without their public speaking teacher in class. There are no allegations of sexual exploitation from any students at Meridian Middle School, where Vastis has taught for 19 years, and school officials are cooperating with the investigation, police said.

"I've been assured by the U.S. Attorney's office that this investigation did not involve the school or any child who attends the school," said Chief Steven Casstevens, Buffalo Grove Police Dept.

Prosecutors say Homeland Security officers led the investigation. They say in January, Vastis persuaded, induced, and enticed a 17-year-old boy, identified in court as Minor A, to produce pornographic images of himself and send them to Vastis. He was also charged with receiving a video containing child pornography on July 13. But again, not involving his students.

"Safety is the most important thing to us. We do a lot of work in this area on social, emotional, internet safety and those types of things, and feel very fortunate that none of our students were involved," said Dr. Theresa Duncan, District 102 superintendent.

District 102 officials said they first learned of the allegations against Vastis on Thursday morning. School board members left their emergency meeting Thurday night resolved to work with law enforcement officials. Shortly after learning of the charges, Vastis was placed on leave and prohibited him from school property.

"The board took formal action to authorize its administration to work with legal counsel and the U.S. Attorney's office to take any steps required under board policy to place employee John Vastis on an unpaid suspension," said Ellyn Ross, District 102 board president.

Vastis faces two counts of producing and one count of receiving child pornography, and will remain in federal custody pending a detention hearing Sept. 2. If found guilty, he faces a minimum of 15 years in prison.
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