CRYSTAL LAKE – A former Crystal Lake Central choir director accused of inappropriately touching former students and giving them alcohol is expected to take his case to a bench trial later this month.
Justin Hubly, 36, of the 300 block of Hambletonian Drive, Oak Brook, was charged Nov. 30, 2016, with battery and giving alcohol to a minor.
If convicted of either misdemeanor offense, Hubly would be sentenced to less than a year in prison.
A copy of the district’s 2016-19 teachers contract states that employees cannot use professional relationships with students for private advantage, and that teachers cannot accept gifts or favors that might impair or appear to influence professional decisions.
Defense attorney Henry “Hank” Sugden said Monday that there is no possibility of a plea negotiation before trial, during which he expects Hubly to take the stand.
Sugden likely will argue that some of the contact mentioned in criminal complaints against Hubly never happened, while other contact was consensual, he said. The last bit of evidence turned over in court Monday morning – a disc containing phone and text records – should help prove Hubly’s case, Sugden said.
As for claims that Hubly provided alcohol to underage students, Sugden said many of those individuals arrived to Hubly’s former Crystal Lake home drunk.
“Kids brought their own alcohol,” Sugden said. “A lot of them were drunk sometime before.”
If Hubly is acquitted of the charges, he is not likely to pursue another career in teaching, at least not in Crystal Lake, Sugden said.
“His reputation’s been damaged too much by this stuff,” he said.
Hubly’s teaching license expires in June. It is unclear how a conviction of either charge potentially could affect Hubly’s standing with the Illinois State Board of Education.
“We take all convictions of teachers seriously,” ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said in an email Monday. “We determine licensure sanctions based on the specific facts of a conviction and can recommend anything from additional training to a suspension for a period of time to full revocation. ISBE does not comment on specific recommendations while cases may be pending.”
Five people were subpoenaed to testify during the trial, according to McHenry County court records. Those people include another Crystal Lake Central High School teacher, former students and the parent of a minor whose name was not included in public court records.
The former choir director was arrested more than a month after allegations surfaced that he had former students at his house on several occasions, gave them alcohol when they were younger than 21 and had inappropriate contact with two of them.
Hubly had worked as the school’s choir director since 2004.
He also served as student activities director, and has spent five terms as president of the District 155 Education Association, which represents teachers at all four of the schools in Community High School District 155.
He earned $85,290 a year, not counting benefits, according to school records.
Hubly was suspended in October 2016 and resigned a month later.
Sugden previously asked the judge to prevent statements made during an Oct. 19 interview from being used during trial.
Sugden argued that in the interview between Hubly and Randy Davis, assistant superintendent of human resources for District 155, Hubly gave information that helped police investigate the claims and later charge Hubly.
Judge Joel Berg ruled in April that he would bar statements Hubly made to Davis from being used at trial, but would allow all other evidence, including the testimony of former students who spoke with district officials.
On Nov. 29, McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Brette Dunbar filed a motion asking that prosecutors be allowed to address the suppressed statements during trial if Hubly were to include them or try to contradict them in his testimony.
Hubly is scheduled to appear in court with his attorney Thursday. At that time, McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt is expected to make a decision on the state’s request.