Cherry Valley police officer charged with sexual assaulting a local teen, teen stands up for officer

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Updated: February 8, 2018, 7:30 p.m.

CHERRY VALLEY, Ill. (WIFR) -- The woman who allegedly had a relationship with a Cherry Valley police officer is speaking out in support of the 35-year-old officer.

The woman involved in this incident who is now 18-years-old says she doesn't think she's a victim in this case. The girl did not want to share her name or face but wants to share her story. This woman will be referred to as ‘Carrie.’

"I am not a victim, I wasn't raped, I wasn't forced to do anything, it was completely consensual," said 'Carrie', who was in the Cherry Valley Police Department's Explorer program when she met Officer Personette last year.

"He helped me learn a lot about the job and he's a big part of why I fell in love with the job its self because it's not just about being a cop, it's helping the community," said 'Carrie.'

'Carrie' says she knew Officer Personette for about 8 months before the encounters began. The two bonded during a ride along for the explorer program.

"I connected with him like I’ve never connected with another human being before," said 'Carrie', but they never thought it would get to this point. "I don't think we really were aware of the full consequences because it was a spur of the moment type thing and in any kind of relationship it’s all about the feelings, it’s all about the emotions."

'Carrie' says a friend from the program told law enforcement about their relationship. She was questioned by the Winnebago County Detectives after her 18th birthday this year.

"This appears to be an isolated incident, it does not reflect on the law enforcement as a whole. An investigation is being done and the State's Attorney's Office is involved in charging appropriately," said Cherry Valley Chief of Police Robert Swank.

"They understand that they hold a higher level of trust in the community, and nobody is above the law. This does not reflect law enforcement officers in general. These are good men and women of law enforcement. Does it concern me? Yes it does, it does concern me highly because when something like this happens it's concerning, it hurts, you feel bad for it, but we still have to do our job and do right and that's what we did here,” said Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana.

"If those actions result in a violation of the criminal law, those charges will be brought when the evidence supports it," said Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato.

"I don't necessarily think that it's unfair in the eyes of the law because it was a written law and it should be followed, especially by a police officer because they know the laws and I understand that fully. What I do want people to see is that there's a person behind the uniform and he had feelings for somebody that was younger and I feel that if I was 17 at the time and I was able to consent to somebody that wasn't a police officer, then I should be able to consent to anyone no matter who it is, no matter if it was a police officer,” said ‘Carrie.’ "I think yes he should have some sort of punishment, probation, community service or fines. I don't want him to go to prison.”

Now ‘Carrie’ is standing up for Officer Personette because she says she does not feel like a victim in this case.

"I want people to see that he is a human being and that he had feelings and that behind every case and every investigation there is more to it than what meets the eye. I didn't want this to happen the way that it did. All I’m doing here is standing up for what I believe in and giving him a voice that he doesn't have right now," said ‘Carrie.’

Officer Personette is currently on paid administrative leave. The Cherry Valley Police Department's Explorer program has been suspended for the time being while they review the policies.

This case is still under investigation by the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.

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Updated: February 8, 2018 10:45 a.m.

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Cherry Valley police officer Jason Personette faces five counts of criminal sexual assault of a victim between the ages of 13 and 17.

On Thursday, Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato announced a five-count bill of indictment against Personette, an officer with the Cherry Valley Police Department.

According to Cherry Valley Chief of Police Robert Swank, the department was told on January 28 about allegations against the 35-year-old officer. The case was immediately handed over to detectives in the Winnebago County Sheriff's Office.

Personette has been with the Cherry Valley Police Department since April 24, 2015. He has now been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

"This should not reflect poorly on the men and women of the Cherry Valley Police Department", said Chief Swank. "We will cooperate fully with the Sheriff's Department and the State's Attorneys office as the investigation moves forward".

Investigators believe Personette allegedly assaulted the victim several times between August 1, 2017 and November 20, 2017 in Winnebago County. At the time, the victim was 17-years-old, according to the charging documents.

Winnebago County State's Attorney Joe Bruscato says the victim was involved in Cherry Valley's explorers program. Investigators believe this was an isolated incident only involving Officer Personette who served as an adviser in the program.

"Explorer's post programs continue to operate in our community and that they are successful", said Bruscato.

Personette is expected to be in court Thursday afternoon for a bond hearing. Right now a bail amount has been set at $50,000. Each count of criminal sexual assault faces 4-15 years in prison, and requires a lifetime registration as a sex offender, if convicted.

"No one is above the law and everyone is accountable for their actions", said Bruscato. "If those actions result in a violation of the criminal law, those charges will be brought when the evidence supports it".

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) – Cherry Valley police officer Jason Personette has been arrested for criminal sexual assault of a minor.

He is facing five counts of criminal sexual assault of a victim between the ages of 13 and 17.

Personette’s bail amount has been set at $50,000 and he is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.