Former DeKalb-Sycamore swim coach gets probation in sex abuse case

SYCAMORE – A former DeKalb-Sycamore co-op swim coach will spend the next 30 months on probation and be required to register as a sex offender for having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old swimmer.

Leah Eames, 33, pleaded guilty earlier this month to a single count of criminal sexual abuse, a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison, as part of a deal with the DeKalb County State's Attorney's Office. In exchange, prosecutors dropped six more serious felony sex charges that included penalties of up to 30 years in prison.

In addition to probation, Eames will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years, pay $3,700 in fines and comply with treatment recommendations from a sex offender evaluation. She is forbidden from having any contact with the victim during her probation.

Prosecutors considered a number of factors in reaching the sentence, Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Klein said. Those factors included evidence collected by police, Eames' lack of a criminal history, an evaluation that found Eames was a low risk to commit a similar crime and input from the victim's family.

The victim's family wanted Eames to be prosecuted, but didn't want the victim to have to relive the experience during public testimony in court, Klein said.

"The victim's family was very pleased (with the outcome)," Klein said.

DeKalb police began investigating Eames on Aug. 10, when a police officer checking the Barb City YMCA, 1515 S. Fourth St. in DeKalb, after hours found Eames working out with a student. The late hour seemed odd to the officer, so police investigated further.

Eames was a Sycamore High School teacher who also coached boys' and girls' swim teams for DeKalb and Sycamore high schools at the time of her arrest.