Dayna Chidester, 50, of Manhattan, is indicted on charges of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse
Dayna Chidester, 50, from Manhattan was arrested this week on charges that she engaged in sexual relations with an underage student at Reed-Custer High School in Braidwood. Chidester faces six counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse as well as five years each of indecent solicitation and unlawful grooming and is being held on $1 Million bond.
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury charged Chidester with abusing her position to engage in an improper sexual relationship with a 14-year-old male from September 2018 until December 2018; during which time the pair spoke on the phone hundreds of times and the teenager sent steamy photos exposing his genitalia, according to court filings. Chidester would tell the teen she liked him while showering him with gifts as documented in court documents.
After allegations against her emerged, the district accepted her resignation. A statement issued by the school district noted it regretted a member of staff was accused of inappropriate conduct and had been removed from her duties; additionally it noted all teachers go through a fingerprint-based background check before being hired which indicates whether or not they’ve been placed on any federal or state watch lists.
Chidester wept as she heard her charges read in court Friday, as reported by WLS. Her husband was present but did not speak; according to court officials, these factors do not supersede prosecutors’ need to provide justice and deter others from engaging in similar crime sprees.
Chidester has been teaching for the district for roughly 10 years. According to their website, she teaches health, nutrition and consumer science classes at Braidwood High School as well as online courses at Illinois Wesleyan University. Chidester earned her bachelor of public health from IWU.
While teaching at the high school, she also served as a middle school teacher and parent educator through its Parent Educator Program, which assists parents and educators navigate the challenges associated with parenting young children and providing quality early childhood education.
According to Illinois Department of Education policy, Chidester’s employer must review her criminal history when hiring employees, with any conviction involving children being grounds for dismissal from work. She arrived with positive references and passed her criminal background check with flying colors; according to district spokesman, Chidester received employment through positive references and an inconclusive background check as conditions of her bond agreement; further, as an order of court, Chidester cannot enter school grounds and must turn over any devices with internet access as part of her bond terms before being due back before court on January 29.