Judge tosses 1 of 2 battery cases against former District 200 teacher

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County judge on Thursday tossed one of the cases against a former Olson Elementary School teacher accused of inappropriately touching students' rear ends.

A separate allegation involving another former student of 39-year-old Jeffrey M. Steurer will continue to be heard before Judge Joel Berg on Friday.

The former music teacher is charged with misdemeanor battery, accused of touching the rear ends of two female students during the 2013 school year.

The first girl told police in December 2013 about the inappropriate touching. Her case will continue. A second girl came forward the following March.

District 200 officials placed Steurer on paid leave after his arrest, and in June he accepted a severance package worth nearly $27,000 without admitting any guilt.

The first alleged victim testified Thursday that Steurer placed his hand on her back, then touched her butt for a few seconds. The second girl said the teacher was known to hug his students. Testimony revealed that she once laughed off Steurer's hugs, saying they didn't make her feel uncomfortable.

"She didn't think it was weird until March, three months after it happened [with the first alleged victim]. Until then, she didn't think it was weird," Berg said in tossing one of the cases and acquitting Steurer on that charge.

Prosecutors called the two girls, now 10 and 11 years old, as their only witnesses. It took some time getting the girls to take the stand after defense attorney Margi Worth motioned for all potential witnesses to be excluded from the courtroom, including the girl's parents.

When called by the defense, one of the alleged victim's mothers provided hostile testimony that provided few new details. At one point, the woman yelled at Worth, saying "Are you a mother?"

Once on the witnesses stand, the first girl described Steurer's alleged touching, and said it made her feel "scared."

Assistant State's Attorney Brian Miller asked the girl why she felt that way, to which she responded: "because teachers don't do that." She said she knew it was wrong.

Worth said the girl's statements to police and school officials were inconsistent. She said the second girl came forward only after the school sent an email to parents informing them of the teacher's arrest.

The defense will continue to present evidence Friday.

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