ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A Boy Scout leader and former Catholic school teacher from Rockford was charged Friday with two counts of felony grooming after he sent text messages to a Kane County boy asking the child to perform sex acts and share photos with him, according to a news release from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Richard J. Reynolds, 56, of the 400 block of Logan Street, also was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct.
Kane County prosecutors allege that between September 2019 and March 2021, Reynolds sent direct messages via social media to the boy.
Reynolds at the time was on the Blackhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America and a co-director of Canyon Camp, a Boy Scouts of America camp near Stockton.
Sedrick Robinson, executive director and CEO of the Blackhawk Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said in an email that the actions alleged against Reynolds “are reprehensible and opposed to everything for which the Boy Scouts of America stands.”
“Upon learning of these allegations in August of 2021, we took immediate action to prohibit him from participation in scouting,” Robinson wrote. “His registration was revoked, and he was added to the BSA’s Volunteer Screening Database, which precludes him from any future registration or participation in scouting. … We will continue to fully cooperate with law enforcement in this matter.”
Robinson said that the Boy Scouts of America have youth protection policies that include requiring two trained adults to be present at all times during scouting activities, with a ban on one-on-one situations with adults and prompt reporting of allegations or suspicions of abuse to law enforcement.
The Blackhawk Area Council service area is divided into four districts that do not include Kane County, according to its website.
The area serviced is the greater McHenry County area; Boone, Winnebago, Carroll, Ogle, Lee, Whiteside, Jo Daviess and Stephenson counties in Illinois; and Green, Lafayette and Grant counties in Wisconsin, according to its website.
The victim, who was younger than 17 years old at the time, knew Reynolds through his association with Boy Scouts of America.
Reynolds is charged in Kane County because the boy received the social media messages at his home in Kane County, according to the release.
A person commits the offense of grooming when they try via electronic transmission to entice someone younger than 17 to commit a sex act, according to the release.
Grooming is a Class 4 felony punishable by one to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000 upon conviction.
Although the state’s attorney’s office release said Reynolds works as a teacher at Holy Family Catholic School in Rockford, diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said he never taught there.
Reynolds taught at All Saints Catholic Academy in Rockford from August 2019 to June 2021 and at St. Peter’s Cathedral School from August 1998 to June 2019, Wiegert’s wrote in an email.
“He was hired to teach at [Holy Family] in fall of 2021, but when the school learned he was under investigation, in accordance with diocesan policy, Mr. Reynolds was placed on unpaid administrative leave prior to the first day of school in August 2021, so he never taught any students there,” Wiegert wrote.
Reynolds resigned Oct. 14, and on Oct. 23, he informed Holy Family he was retiring instead of resigning, Weigert’s said.
In August 2021, the diocese also sent notice of the investigation to all families in All Saints and St. Peter’s, where Reynolds previously taught.
Kane County Judge Julia Yetter issued a warrant for Reynolds’ arrest and set his bond at $40,000, with 10% – or $4,000 – required for bail.
Reynolds surrendered Feb. 16 at the Kane County Jail, was booked, posted bail and was released.
His next court appearance is set for Feb. 28.
The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information about Reynolds should call the Kane County Child Advocacy Center at 630-208-5160.