Huntley Police Department presses charges against middle school student for hate crime

The Huntley Police Department and Community School District 158 say they take juvenile electronic threats and misuse of social media very seriously.

Last week, they had an opportunity to demonstrate that policy dramatically.

Five criminal charges were leveled at a 13-year-old Huntley resident after an investigation into threats and racial statements made at and against Marlowe Middle School in District 158.

The charges include three felonies and two misdemeanors. They include disorderly conduct (threats made to the school), a Class 4 felony; harassment by electronic communication, a Class 4 felony; hate crime, a Class 4 felony; obstructing a peace officer, a Class A misdemeanor; and disorderly conduct, a Class C misdemeanor.

All of these charges were approved by the McHenry County States Attorney’s Office and filed in juvenile court, according to Huntley Deputy Police Chief Mike Klunk. The juvenile, who was a student at Marlowe when these activities took place, is currently being detained at the Kane County Juvenile Detention Center.

The juvenile in this incident is not the same person that had been previously charged in regards to the reported hate crime at Marlowe in October, Klunk said. The above charges were brought as the result of a “thorough” investigation, he added. This incident was the subject of an earlier press release and a Huntley Community School District 158 community message.

In a November 16 statement to District 158 families, Dr. John Burkey, superintendent, said, “Over the past several years, our district has dealt with greatly increased levels of inappropriate use of social media. This misuse includes sending threatening, bullying, and disruptive messages. These messages are harmful, they cause hurt feelings, fear, and often, serious disruptions to the school environment. We are committed to communicating as transparently as possible about these issues, especially as they pertain to student safety.

“The ongoing investigation has included the execution of a search warrant, the seizure by police of pertinent items, and the conducting of numerous interviews. The location from which the message was sent and a person of interest have been identified. Out of an abundance of caution, we have increased police presence at all Huntley 158 schools (on Friday, Nov. 17). This will include uniformed officers present at Reed Road schools.

“The public is reminded that comments made via electronic means have consequences,” Klunk said in a police statement. “We take matters such as this extremely seriously and will take appropriate actions to maintain the safety and well-being of our community.” The investigation revealed that threats and racial statements were made by the offender via Xbox Live, he added.

The Lake in the Hills Police Department, District 158, and the McHenry County States Attorney’s Office all cooperated in the investigation of this incident, Klunk said.

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