NEW BADEN, Ill. - A former elementary teacher pleaded guilty in federal court on Thursday to soliciting sexual images from minors, including a 13-year-old who he conversed with via Snapchat, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Illinois.
Jonathan C. Villmer, Jr., 25, is a former teacher at New Baden Elementary School located in New Baden, Illinois. He was also a coach for girls’ sports teams within the Wesclin Community Unit School District before he was criminally charged with soliciting sexual images in August 2023.
"We know child predators lurk in our communities, but it’s especially disturbing when a former first grade teacher and coach admits to asking minors for inappropriate images," U.S. Attorney Rachelle Aud Crowe said in a news release on Tuesday. "I highly commend the several law enforcement departments who contributed to this investigation and identified an extremely dangerous individual working directly with minors."
He faces a maximum of up to 20 years in prison.
According to court documents, investigators were pursuing an unrelated case by the Carmi Police Department concerning the distribution of underage sexual materials when they found an account connected to Villmer.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for the Snapchat account and used the IP address to track the account to Villmer. They then learned of his involvement with another minor.
Authorities discovered explicit conversations with the 13-year-old, as well as messages for the teenager to send him the "sexiest images." The two also discussed sexual actions, including taking the teen’s virginity.
He was arrested on Aug. 18, 2023.
"The importance of this case and guilty plea cannot be overstated. Investigations involving the exploitation of children are horrible, but it is particularly troubling when the accused occupies a position of public trust and seeks to exploit the most vulnerable in our society," said Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago Special Agent in Charge Sean Fitzgerald. "HSI will continue to work closely with our local, state and federal partners to bring those who would sexually exploit children to justice."
HSI led the investigation with support from the New Baden and Carmi Police Departments, and the Jefferson County and Clinton County Sheriffs’ Departments.
New Baden is located approximately 90 miles south of Springfield, Illinois, and 30 miles east of St. Louis.