Sex charge against former Woodstock teacher dismissed

Special to the Tribune

A McHenry County judge today threw out charges against a former Woodstock North High School teacher who had been accused of having sex with a 14-year-old freshman girl in the spring of 2009.

James Guttridge, 38, of Rockford, walked out of Circuit Court Judge Joseph Condon’s courtroom a free man after Condon agreed with defense attorney Terry Ekl that the state did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

During a bench trial today, the former student, now 18, testified that she had a “flirtatious” relationship with Guttridge. She said he often gave her hall passes to get out of study hall and spend time with him in his office.

During sometimes tearful testimony, she testified that he had driven her home and kissed her and fondled her once and had sex with her another time in a storage room.

She said she initially lied to investigators because she was embarrassed over rumors about the alleged encounters in the fall of 2009, saying then that they were not true.

It was not until her senior year, after Guttridge reprimanded her and she got a detention, that she recanted her original story and said the rumors were true.

Condon granted the defense motion to dismiss the case, citing her changing story and lack of physical evidence.

Through Ekl, Guttridge declined comment.

"I think the judge made appropriate ruling,” Ekl said. “The testimony of (the girl) was significantly impeached."

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