***Updated to clarify when Jonathan told his family of the sex abuse allegations***
The names of alleged underage victims of sex abuse are not revealed publicly during the legal process, even if a person comes forward long after he or she has turned 18. Jonathan Bocek wants his name used in this story with the hope that his willingness to tell the world what happened to him will encourage other victims of his alleged abuser to share their story with police.
Jonathan had a passion for music and was excited when a music teacher came to Collinsville Christian Academy – formerly Son Life – in 1993. The new teacher was in the process of moving his family from Ballwin, Mo., to Collinsville and occasionally needed a place to stay on weekdays. Jonathan’s parents, Roger and Pam, who were elders in Son Life Church – now known as Navigation Church – which oversees the school, offered the teacher a place in their home until he was settled in his new town.
The teacher, whose name is withheld because he has not been arrested or formally charged, became friendly with Jonathan’s family and was soon giving him private music lessons.
“I look back now, in retrospect, and I see what he was doing,” Jonathan said. “He was putting himself into the picture.”
Soon, when the teacher gave Jonathan a ride home from band practice or a private lesson, he would park his blue, Chrysler minivan down the street from Jonathan’s house and talk to him. At first, there was no physical contact.
Even when the teacher invited a 13-year-old Jonathan and Nathaniel (not his real name), a 12-year-old Collinsville Christian Academy student, to a home in Pacific, Mo. to watch videos of concerts, and later convinced the two boys to skinny dip in a pool, the teacher did not make physical contact. The teacher watched from a window, Jonathan said, before opening a patio door and playfully throwing ice cubes at the boys.
Jonathan soon felt he had a friendship with the teacher, who was in his mid-30s. A third band student, Tim (not his real name), was brought into the clique of friends with whom the teacher would spend time. To show he was “cool,” the teacher would tell the boys how the female students in the school got him excited. As proof, he asked the boys to look at his crotch, accentuated by the tight fit of his pants, Jonathan said.
The teacher first made physical contact with Jonathan in the basement of the teacher’s Collinsville home, with his wife and children upstairs, after he took Tim and Jonathan to a Mark Lowry concert in Springfield, Ill.
“I don’t know how it happened, but, before I knew it, he had his penis out,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan and Tim were encouraged to pull out their penises so they could all be measured. The teacher then began touching the boys’ penises.
That night was the first of “countless” instances of the teacher masturbating the two boys, Jonathan said. The incidents typically happened in the minivan on the back roads of Collinsville following a basketball game or pep band. One time the teacher convinced Jonathan, Nathaniel and Tim to masturbate together in his car.
The teacher made a game of challenging Jonathan and Tim to see who could make the teacher’s penis hard the fastest. The winner was rewarded with chocolate milk or a peanut butter cup, Jonathan said.
After about nine months, Jonathan began to feel very uneasy about what was happening and started to distance himself from the teacher, who then pushed Jonathan away from the band.
Jonathan did not report what happened to him, Nathaniel and Tim to his parents, anyone at the school or anyone at the church, he said, even when his mother confronted the teacher in his minivan, parked down the street from her house, with Jonathan inside. Pam did not see the teacher making contact with Jonathan, but she had an uneasy feeling, she said. She warned the teacher not to touch her son.
“I told (him), ‘if I find you laying hands on my son, I’m going to cut off your hands,'” Pam said.
Pam said she then went to the Son Life pastor at the time, Dennis Amsden, and told him the teacher was a pervert that should be kept away from children. Amsden does not remember the conversation.
“You could knock me over with a feather,” he said when informed of the allegations against the former teacher. “Why didn’t Jonathan’s parents say something to me at the time?”
Amsden was surprised that Jonathan was making the allegations.
“Really? 20 years later he just wakes up and says, ‘hey I have something to say?'” Amsden said. “You and I, we better take care of ourselves because they can come back any time and accuse you.”
Research has consistently shown that most child victims delay reporting the crime, Mary L. Paine and David J. Hansen note in a 2002 article published in “Clinical Psychology Review.” Kath Cummings, Director of Public Affairs for The National Center for Victims of Crime, said victims may need time to get past some of the barriers to coming forward.
“A lot of survivors don’t feel safe to talk about it until they are in a secure relationship or have kids of their own and realize the kids aren’t at fault,” Cummins said.
While noting that Jonathan’s accusations would not help Collinsville Christian Academy considering the recent charges filed against former principal Robert Lane for attempted sex abuse, Amsden said Jonathan’s allegations are not proof of wrongdoing
“It’s one thing to accuse and another to prove,” Amsden said.
Dennis Amsden’s son, David, is the current Navigation Church pastor. He was a student at Collinsville Christian Academy at the same time the teacher was present. David, who is several years older than Jonathan, but was in school with him, declined to comment for this story.
The Bocek’s left Son Life Church because they did not like the direction it was going, Pam said. Jonathan was enrolled in Metro East Lutheran High School in the fall of 1998. He graduated from the Edwardsville school in 2000.
The teacher’s now former wife (whose name is withheld at her request) said the couple and their children left Collinsville in about 1996. The departure was a bit abrupt, she said, but he told her he wanted her to be closer to her family in Ohio. The couple lived in Mechanicsburg, Ohio until they separated in 2000.
Since returning to Ohio, where the couple met and married, the teacher worked at a private school in Marysville and the Springfield public schools, his former wife said. He is now a music teacher at another private school in Marysville and gives private lessons out of a local music store.
About eight years ago, the former wife began to hear rumors about inappropriate contact between the teacher and Tim. When she called Tim’s mother, she confirmed the rumors, the former wife said. She then called her former husband’s employers. She is not aware of any action taken against him, or of any victims in Ohio coming forward.
Most of Jonathan’s family learned of his story within the past few months, after Lane was charged. Tim had confided his story to Jonathan’s younger brother years ago.
Jonathan told his brother and Pam in 2013 that he had been sexually abused by the teacher. After Lane was charged, the 32-year-old, with a steady girlfriend and a job as a supervisor at a Bluetooth technology company, was ready to tell his story. He recently met with Collinsville Police to make a statement.
In addition to encouraging other past victims to come forward, Jonathan hopes his story will prevent future victims.
“I don’t want what happened to us to happen to them,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan has been in touch with the other alleged victims, but they are not yet ready to provide a statement to Collinsville Police, he said. In Illinois, an investigation must be initiated within 20 years of an alleged incident or the statute of limitations will expire and the accused cannot be charged.
Lt. Todd Link of the Collinsville Police Department confirmed that an investigation into the teacher is ongoing.
Anyone with information that can assist the investigation is asked to call the Collinsville Police Department crime tip line at 618-301-4444 or Link at 618-344-2131, ext. 5126.