TROY, IL (KPLR) - Two Illinois communities located more than an hour apart are worried about the same suspect – a math teacher at Mount Vernon High School accused of soliciting a minor.
Twenty-five-year-old Kevin Battas remains in custody at Madison County Jail under a $150,000 bond for indecent solicitation of a child and grooming. Police said the “grooming” charge means he used an electronic device like a cell phone to lure the eighth-grade girl from Troy, Illinois. They indicate the messages were inappropriate and sexually graphic.
Police said the two connected on an app called Whisper. They never did meet.
The high school launched an investigation and, along with the Mount Vernon Police Department, have a series of phone numbers established, including an anonymous tip line in case there are other victims out there. At this point, Mount Vernon authorities have no information that there are other victims.
Troy police had the same fear concerning other youngsters having been targeted. Authorities advised parents to beware.
“Parents have to take a proactive approach on the communication their children are using, whether it’s their cellphone or whatever electronic communication device,” Troy Police Chief Brad Parsons said. “They got to proactively stay involved with who their child is communication with.”
Melissa Whitecotton has a young daughter and lives near Mount Vernon.
“I think people need to watch their kids, this close to home,” she said.
Brian Staples said if the teacher is guilty, he should be punished.
“He shouldn’t have done that and he should go to jail,” Staples said.
Battas has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation. If convicted on all charges, Battas could spend up to eight years in prison.
“It’s upsetting. I can’t believe people do this to kids and how these schools are hiring these teachers,” said parent Debbie Colbrave. “They need to check in a little better before they hire them.”