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The jury trial for a former Vandalia teacher and state police officer, along with all other jury trials scheduled for January in Fayette County, has been postponed.
Judge Douglas Jarman said during a pretrial hearing held by Zoom last Thursday that the trial date for James T. Dierkes, scheduled to get under way next Monday, had been vacated due to the pandemic.
During last Thursday’s hearing, Brian Polinski, Dierkes’ attorney, asked that a 402 conference be held either “next month or the month after.”
Jarman, who is the chief judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, explained to Dierkes that the judge, state’s attorney’s office and defense attorney participate in a 402 conference.
During the conference, Jarman said, the judge will receive information about Dierkes, including his history and background, along with some things he might not hear during a trial.
“The idea is to try to come up with a resolution” in the case.
Dierkes, 30, has been charged with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and 11 counts of criminal sexual assault.
Criminal sexual assault of a victim between the ages of 13-17 by a person in a supervisory position is a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Aggravated criminal sexual abuse by a person of trust is a Class 2 felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.
The allegations involving one of his former students allege that Dierkes committed sexual acts between Aug. 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017. The time period for those allegations involving the other former student is Nov. 1, 2017, and Sept. 28, 2019.
Dierkes, of Donnellson, was initially jailed at $1 million bond, and his bond was increased to $1.5 million after allegations involving a second former student were filed by Morrison’s office. Judge Kevin Parker later consolidated the bond in the two cases and lowered the bond to $1 million.
During a pretrial hearing in February, Parker granted a motion to modify his bond conditions to allow Dierkes to have supervised video visitations with his two minor children.
He remains in the Fayette County Jail in lieu of bond.
Dierkes was employed as an art teacher at the Okaw Area Vocational Center from 2012-18, and he also coached at the junior high and high school. He resigned from his teaching and coaching positions in August 2018.
Dierkes was employed by the state police in June 2018. According to online records, he graduated from the Illinois State Police academy in December of 2018 and completed field training in May of last year.