Illinois state trooper relieved of duty, charged with sex abuse

A trooper has been relieved of duty and charged with sexual assault in connection with incidents alleged to have occurred when he worked at a southern Illinois high school, according to the Illinois State Police.

James Dierkes, 29, of Greenville was arrested Friday on aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault.

Two victims have alleged inappropriate sexual contact on multiple occasions in 2016 during Dierkes’ time at Vandalia Community High School in Vandalia, southeast of Springfield, the state police said in a release.

Dierkes has been with the state police since June 2018. The agency said it “conducts lengthy, rigorous employment background checks during the application process” and that “Dierkes’ extensive background investigation included his employment at Vandalia Community High School and showed no evidence of criminal misconduct or activity at the time of his application.”

On Tuesday, Vandalia police asked the state police for assistance in the investigation.

“Illinois State Police special agents treated the victim’s allegations as credible and within hours of disclosure initiated an investigation leading to these charges,” state police director Brendan F. Kelly said.

Dierkes was being held Friday on a $1 million bond in the Fayette County Jail. The Associated Press was unable Friday evening to determine if he has an attorney.