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Metea Valley High teacher charged with criminal sexual assault
By Lee Filas and Jake Griffin | Daily Herald Staff

Robert Smith


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Published: 10/5/2010 9:33 AM | Updated: 10/5/2010 5:19 PM

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A Metea Valley High School physics teacher charged Tuesday with carrying on a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old female student wrote an apology to the girl and her family, a prosecutor said.

The letter was introduced by Prosecutor Mike Pawl during 27-year-old Robert C. Smith's bond hearing Tuesday morning at the DuPage County courthouse in Wheaton. Smith is charged with criminal sexual assault and is facing tougher penalties because of his "position of authority," Pawl said. If convicted, Smith could receive a prison sentence ranging between eight years and 30 years, authorities said.

Smith is being held at the DuPage County jail in Wheaton in lieu of a $300,000 bond, Pawl said.

Smith's attorney William Galati would not comment on the case. Pawl said Smith is married, but going through a divorce. He was living with his parents in Mokena at the time of his arrest, authorities said.

Authorities have charged Smith in connection with one rendezvous with the girl, but are investigating whether more instances occurred. Additional charges could be filed, Pawl said.

Smith is accused of taking the girl to the Sleep Inn at 1831 W. Diehl Road in Naperville, located about two miles from the Aurora high school. Court papers indicate the two engaged in sexual activity at the motel, but did not have intercourse.

Investigators believe the relationship between the teacher and student occurred sometime between Sept. 5 and Sept. 18.

Naperville police were contacted by the high school's resource officer on Sept. 28, Sgt. Gregg Bell said.

When questioned by investigators, the victim acknowledged the relationship and identified Smith, Pawl said. Police then interviewed the teacher.

"He was cooperative," Pawl said. "He gave a statement and admitted to carrying on the relationship."

Pawl said Smith then wrote the letter of apology

Smith was immediately removed from all duties and placed on administrative leave once the allegations were brought to light, Indian Prairie Unit District 204 Superintendent Kathy Birkett wrote in a message posted Tuesday morning on the district's website.

"We understand the seriousness of the charges and are cooperating fully with the police in their investigation," Birkett wrote.

The school is offering support for any student who may need to discuss the issue, Birkett said in her statement. Students should speak with their guidance counselors or social workers. Students who may have "pertinent information" regarding the investigation are urged to contact the Naperville police, Birkett wrote.

Smith has taught in District 204 since 2008. He worked at Waubonsie Valley High School for one year before moving to Metea Valley, which opened last year. He passed a background check before he was hired, according to the school district statement.

District officials said conversations are taking place between school administrators and the family of the victim to ensure the girl's privacy is protected and her education isn't interrupted further.

Smith is scheduled for arraignment Nov. 1.

Daily Herald staff writers Justin Kmitch and Anna Madrzyk contributed to this report.