WLS - ABC 7 [Chicago IL]
May 1, 2021
By By Liz Nagy and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team
Jeremy Hylka worked at Saint Joseph Catholic School in Lockport, Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet when fired
A former Catholic school teacher in the southwest suburbs has been charged after a video surfaced showing him ‘engaged in inappropriate communication with a minor.”
Jeremy M. Hylka was charged with traveling to meet a child and grooming, according to Joliet police.
Publically, Hylka was a former youth minister, father and teacher, and passionate about the weather. He even appeared in videos for the Joliet Weather Center.
But out of view of his students and parishioners, police say Hylka tried to solicit sex with children on the internet.
Police said on Wednesday they were alerted to a Snapchat video they said possibly showed inappropriate contact with a minor by an independent group called Save Our Siblings.
In part of the video that was sent to police, authorities say you can see Hylka running from a Joliet McDonald’s Tuesday night after investigators say he realized he’d been caught in a setup by the independent organization.
Police said Hylka had shown up to the McDonalds under the impression he was meeting a teenage boy for sex.
Police said they spoke with at least one minor who Hylka allegedly had inappropriate contact with, who gave them video and text messages social media showing further inappropriate behavior, authorities said.
Joliet police said the material was vetted and validated before multiple felony charges were filed by the Will County State’s Attorney.
An arrest warrant was issued for him Wednesday, but Hylka is not currently in custody. Police said they are actively searching for him. He will be held on $100,000 bond when he is taken into custody.
Hylka worked at Saint Joseph Catholic School in Lockport, Saint Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Joliet and the Cathedral of Saint Raymond Nonnatus in Joliet at the time of his arrest.
He spent 20 years as a teacher at Joliet Catholic Academy, who said in a statement that in June 2020 they were made aware of online allegations against Hylka. JCA said they immediately notified Joliet police and worked with the Diocese regarding the investigation.
JCA officials said Hylka was put on leave and subsequently resigned as a result.
In a statement, the diocese said Hylka is prohibited from working or volunteering for any diocesan school or parish, and that it had received information from various sources concerning alleged inappropriate communications with a minor.
“The diocese, the school and the parishes remain committed to a safe environment for all children under our care,” the statement said.
Joliet police are encouraging any other victims to come forward.
FULL DIOCESE OF JOLIET STATEMENT:
“The Joliet Police Department late this afternoon announced that a Will County judge has issued an arrest warrant for Jeremy M. Hylka on charges of traveling to meet a minor and grooming. Upon learning of allegations against Hylka yesterday, Diocese of Joliet officials terminated his employment at St. Joseph Catholic School in Lockport and St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus, both in Joliet. He is also prohibited from working or volunteering for any diocesan school or parish.
“We urge any individuals who have suspicions of child abuse to notify local law enforcement authorities and diocesan officials. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a safe environment for all children under our care.”
FULL JOLIET POLICE STATEMENT:
“The Joliet Police Department has been made aware of a video depicting an adult allegedly engaged in inappropriate communication with a minor. Joliet Police Detectives possess this video and an investigation is currently underway. Thank you for your assistance. No further information will be released at this time.
“After further investigation by Joliet Police Detectives, the Will County State’s Attorney Office has reviewed charges and a Will County Judge has issued an arrest warrant for Jeremy M. Hylka in the amount of $100,000 for the charges of Traveling to Meet a Child and Grooming. Thank you for the public’s assistance.”
Joliet police were expected to provide additional details at a news conference later Friday.
The Sun Times Wire contributed to this report