To the Editor:
James B. Guttridge was wrongly accused in January 2012 of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. As a former female Woodstock North High School student, I was hurt and filled with disbelief at the news.
I had Mr. Guttridge, or as we called him “Gutty,” as a coach on the girls track and field team for four years, and as a physical education teacher. Gutty was not only a coach to us, but a friend and a mentor. We looked up to him for guidance and only had the utmost respect for him, and still do.
Gutty was always there for us if we had a problem in school or at home, always lending an ear to listen and great advice. Never once, from September 2007 to now, did we ever feel uncomfortable around Gutty.
On occasion, we were lucky enough to spend Saturday morning practices with his two amazing sons. There was no confusing the admiration in his two boys’ eyes when they looked at their father. And we’ve come to see that we looked at him with the same admiration.
I graduated in the top 15 percent of my high school class and have a promising future ahead. Without hesitation, I can credit my drive and determination to succeed to my coach, teacher, mentor and, above all, friend, James “Gutty” Guttridge.