Former Lake Zurich High School teacher Ronald D. Culver, 52, was sentenced to two years in prison and two years of probation Aug. 9 after pleading guilty to criminal sexual abuse of two Lake Zurich High School students.
Culver, who taught English and drama, plead guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony, and an amended charge from aggravated criminal sexual abuse down to criminal sexual abuse, a Class 4 felony, in Lake County Circuit Court.
“It was (Culver's) best possible option and he weighed his choices,” said Steve Simonian, Culver’s attorney.
Lake Zurich police arrested Culver on Oct. 29. He was charged with aggravated sexual abuse against one student. He immediately resigned from Lake Zurich High School. Shortly thereafter, a second student came forward and made a similar claim, according to Lake Zurich police.
Culver posted $25,000 bond, 10 percent of his total bond of $250,000, after his arrest.
Culver initially was charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. According to Simonian, the recommendations made by Judge Daniel B. Shanes during a requested conference in May were “consistent” with the final negotiation between Culver and Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Fred Day.
“Eight counts were dropped, but that was of no consequence to the sentence,” explained Day. “The sentence was an agreed disposition and the families were notified and involved through every step of the process.”
“I didn’t think straight probation was appropriate and (felt) that some corrections time was necessary,” Shanes told Culver during the hearing. “I think you’re amenable. It is the court's duty to punish the offender and protect the community.”
Shanes pointed out that Culver has no prior criminal history.
Culver was taken into custody immediately after the judge accepted the negotiated sentence.
The terms of the sentence include:
- Culver will have to registered as a sex offender;
- He is not allowed to have contact with the two victims, their families, anyone that is younger than age 18, or contact any of the Lake Zurich schools;
- He will not be able to use the Internet;
- He cannot use drugs or alcohol;
- He will have to submit to DNA and sexually transmitted disease tests;
- And he must be cooperative in being evaluated and assessed.
In addition to those terms, Culver also must pay each victim $500 in restitution, as well as court costs and other related fees totaling $6,017.
Simonian requested that Shanes allow Culver to bring a prescription of Cymbalta to jail, which he has taken for anxiety for the past nine months but is not on an acceptable list of medications by the jail. Shanes declined the approval.
“I am not a doctor, but I will order jail medical staff to take care of him,” he said.
Both victims and their families were present in the courtroom. During the final sentencing, family members cried. They watched as Culver emptied his pockets into the contents of a clear plastic bag, preparing to be taken into custody.
Shanes said he is accepting the negotiated sentence for two reasons.
“The acceptance of responsibility — that is the first step towards rehabilitation. And two, the acceptance of responsibility means that the victims in this case do not need to come to court any further and testify," said Shanes.
Culver “has taken responsibility and he’s been punished appropriately,” said Day.