A Donnellson man who had just begun a career as an Illinois State Trooper was arrested Friday morning, Dec. 6, for sex crimes allegedly committed while he was a teacher in Vandalia.
James R. Dierkes, 29, of Donnellson, is charged with felony criminal sexual assault of a victim age 13-17, and felony aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim age 13-17. Bail has been set at $1 million. A preliminary hearing has been set for Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 10 a.m. in Fayette County Circuit Court in Vandalia.
He was arrested Friday by the Illinois State Police Division of Internal Investigations, who received a request on Tuesday, Dec. 3, from the Vandalia Police Department regarding allegations of incidents that occurred in 2016 while Dierkes was employed as a teacher. The victim alleged multiple instances of inappropriate sexual contact while Dierkes was a teacher in Vandalia, and that investigation lead to another victim who also alleged multiple occasions of inappropriate sexual contact.
Dierkes taught at the Okaw Area Vocational Center from 2012 to 2018 before leaving the school to join the Illinois State Police. He was immediately relieved of duty when he was taken into custody on Friday, according to state police.
"Illinois State Police Special Agents treated the victim's allegations as credible, and within hours of disclosure initiated an investigation leading to these charges," ISP Director Brendan F. Kelly said. "ISP agents are fiercely protective of brave crime victims and fiercely protective of the integrity of the Illinois State Police, so we urge any victims to come forward."
Anyone wishing to provide additional information may call the state police at 217-622-0924.