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James Dierkes, accused of several counts of criminal sexual assault and abuse with a minor, appeared in court last Wednesday, March 17, via Zoom, for a 402 Conference.
Dierkes, a former Vandalia teacher and state police officer, had requested a 402 conference. In a 402 conference, the judge, defense attorney, prosecutor, and defendant all participate in a meeting, in which the judge learns about the defendant’s background and how that could relate to the charges. Some of the information gathered in such a meeting may not be brought out in court.
After the conference, a judge would inform those present of the sentence he or she would hand down in the event of a guilty plea. After that, it is up to the defendant as to whether to proceed with a trial or make a plea.
In last week’s hearing, all parties returned to open court and a pretrial was set for 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 24, via zoom.
He was initially charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault, and 11 counts of criminal sexual assault, after a second alleged victim came forward after the first case was filed.
Dierkes was employed as an art teacher at the Okaw Area Vocational Center from 2012-2018, and was a coach at the junior high and high school. He was employed by the state police in June 2018.