Police: Molestation suspect caught tutoring child

Police: Molestation suspect caught tutoring child

Ex-teacher accused of molesting Portage child allegedly used alias to land work in Ill.


VALPARAISO | A former substitute teacher is back behind bars on allegations of inappropriately touching a child he was tutoring while out on bond on the same type of allegations.

A 7-year-old girl from Evanston, Ill., told her mother that Brett Zagorac repeatedly rubbed her back during a tutoring session at her home April 4, according to court records.

Zagorac, who was out on bond at the time on a charge of molesting a 5-year-old Portage boy he was tutoring, had been prohibited by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper from being alone with or tutoring anyone younger than 18.

He claims one of his attorneys did not properly explain the conditions of his bond, according to court records. Zagorac also is denying allegations he continued to seek students through an online advertisement on Craigslist.

Zagorac's bond was revoked April 28, and he was booked into the Porter County Jail on May 3. A hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday before Harper on Zagorac's request to reconsider the bond revocation.

Zagorac, who also has gone by the alias BJ Wilhelm, is charged with molesting the Portage boy in December.

He was prohibited Feb. 23 from having contact with anyone younger than 18 while out on bond.

The mother of the Evanston girl told police she hired Zagorac through a Craigslist advertisement in which he supplied the name BJ Wilhelm. She said she was unable to reach one of Zagorac's references by telephone and another replied after the tutoring session.

The girl reportedly told her mother the English tutoring session went fine, except that Zagorac kept rubbing her back, according to police. The mother said she then did an online search and learned of Zagorac's criminal history involving children.

Zagorac has been accused numerous times of touching children inappropriately in both Indiana and Illinois, resulting in at least one conviction.

As part of his request for Harper to reconsider the revocation of his bond, Zagorac included a sworn statement in which attorney T. Edward Page said he incorrectly told Zagorac the only limitation on his freedom was that he could not be alone with anyone younger than 18.

When Zagorac asked for clarification on the order regarding tutoring children under 18, Page said he gave him an example that was unclear and subject to misinterpretation.

Evanston Police Cmdr. James Elliot said Monday no charges have been filed against Zagorac, but the case remains under investigation.

Zagorac was found guilty in 2003 of misdemeanor battery involving two Peifer Elementary School boys while he was substitute teaching in Schererville. The Indiana Appeals Court later reversed the findings and ordered separate jury trials, during which Zagorac was acquitted.

Child molestation charges against Zagorac were dropped in October 2007 when the alleged victim, 13, refused to testify. The boy was an 8-year-old student at Hammond's Edison Elementary School at the time of the alleged incident.


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