Former Catholic schoolteacher in the Joliet Diocese indicted on 5 criminal counts following accusation of child grooming, records show

·2 min read

A former Catholic schoolteacher in the Joliet Diocese was indicted on five counts Thursday after he was arrested earlier this month for allegedly traveling to meet a child and child grooming, according to Will County court records.

Jeremy Hylka faces five criminal charges in connection with his April 27 visit to a Joliet-area McDonald’s to allegedly meet and solicit someone whom he believed to be an underage boy he met through the internet, according to court documents. The criminal charges include traveling to meet a child, two charges of indecent solicitation, grooming and soliciting to meet a child — all felonies.

Police issued a warrant for Hylka’s arrest on April 29 — one day after a video of the alleged encounter was brought to their attention. Hylka was released on a $10,000 cash bond following a two-week hospitalization at Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital in New Lenox, according to courthouse records.

The video was made by a 19-year-old citizen, who, acting independently, posed as a 15-year-old and also uploaded alleged messages between the two on social media, police said.

Hylka previously worked as a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Lockport and as a youth pastor at two Joliet Catholic churches. He was fired from his positions in April, one day before police issued the warrant for his arrest, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet and police.

The 44-year-old teacher had previously been put on two-week paid leave in January, while a TikTok video in which an adult man alleged he was propositioned and groomed by an unnamed teacher in high school was investigated, the diocese said.

The St. Joseph Catholic School principal was also placed on leave while the diocese looked into the circumstances of Hylka’s employment, officials said.

Hylka’s next court date is scheduled for June 24, Joliet police said.