Crime & Courts

Judge dismisses felony charge against Woodstock man, convicted sex offender

James Cornelius
James Cornelius

A judge has dismissed a felony charge against a convicted sex offender accused of entering Woodstock High School in October.

Neither the man’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof, nor Assistant State’s Attorney Rita Gara would say why the case was dismissed more than three months after the felony charge was filed.

Woodstock police arrested James Cornelius in October after faculty members at Woodstock High School reported seeing a known registered sex offender in the building. Surveillance videos confirmed the 23-year-old had entered the school for about 10 minutes while students were present, according to a news release at the time.

School District 200 officials released a statement at the time claiming Cornelius, a former student, might have been trying to speak with a staff member.

Cornelius, who couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, was arrested and charged with being a child sex offender in a school zone. If the case had gone to trial, he would have faced as many as three years in prison.

Cornelius was one of four teens arrested in 2014 in connection with an alleged sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. He and two others were accused of sexually assaulting the girl while another juvenile videotaped the act, which was believed to have been posted on Facebook and used to intimidate the girl into further sex acts.

Cornelius accepted a deal in 2014 and pleaded guilty to criminal sexual abuse.

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