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TEACHER CHARGED WITH HAVING
SEX WITH TEEN

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Monday, May 25, 2009 — A Maine East High School teacher is being held on $50,000 bond after she was charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse as a result of an eight-month relationship she admitted to police she has had with a former student, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said.
            Jennifer Espinosa, 38, of Park Ridge, told Cook County Sheriff’s Police investigators she “loves” the 16-year-old boy, who was expelled from Maine East in September and is a known Sureno 13 gang member, investigators said.
            Sheriff’s police investigators were patrolling the Golf Terrace Apartments, 9644 N. Golf Terrace, on Saturday night because the area has seen a recent increase in gang and narcotics activity. As they drove behind Espinosa’s 2009 Honda Pilot, the officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana. They saw no other people in the area but noticed the windows of the Pilot were rolled down. They curbed the vehicle and after seeing one occupant moving quickly in the back seat, they ordered all occupants out of the car.
Espinosa immediately identified herself to sheriff’s police officers as a teacher at Maine East. Officers recognized the 16-year-old boy and a 22-year-old passenger as known gang members.
Sheriff’s police called in a sheriff’s K9 unit, which detected narcotics in the car, leading to a search and recovery of a bag of suspected marijuana. Alejandro Landi, 22, of Niles, was charged with misdemeanor drug possession.
            But upon questioning of all three suspects at sheriff’s police headquarters, details of the relationship between Espinosa and the boy began to emerge.
          Espinosa told investigators she was a teacher and mentor to the boy until he was expelled. She said their relationship began after his expulsion. Investigators said she told them they have since had sex numerous times, in her Park Ridge home and in her car at various locations around the high school.
            Espinosa, a married mother of two children and the former soccer coach at Maine East, teaches science and special education at the school.

She appeared in bond court in Skokie Monday morning and must post $5,000 cash, or 10 percent of her bond, to be released from custody. Her next court hearing is set for Friday.            

           

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