By Jim Hagerty
Rockford Public School District officials said parents were not alerted about a man caught lurking in the halls of Flinn Middle School in January because the man did not interact with students.
Police say 47-year-old Todd F. Swanson was escorted out of Flinn Middle School Jan. 16 when staff discovered he did not check in at the security desk.
Swanson, who has convictions of child abduction and burglary, told staff he was in the building to visit his daughter–a claim proved to be false.
Earlier in the day, Swanson, dressed in women’s clothing and wearing lipstick, allegedly made lewd gestures to a woman and children in another area of the city. He was later arrested for trespassing and disorderly conduct.
Authorities said while Swanson was out on bond, he was spotted in the Machesney Park Bergner’s taking pictures of women inside dressings rooms. Swanson was also dressed in drag when he was escorted out of the East State Street Peak Fitness before his Feb. 14 arrest.
Swanson’s arrest and the Flinn Middle School incident were made public last Thursday. District officials said safety of students and staff is their main concern. When visitors enter specific district buildings, they must pass through a series of security checks before they are permitted to proceed.
“At our middle and high schools, as well as the Administration Building, visitors are required to check in at the security desk, and a photo ID is scanned and checked against a registered sex offender database,” the District said in a news release. “Building staff are trained to be proactive and approach visitors in our buildings to continue to ensure the building is safe. (Swanson) was immediately stopped by a teacher and redirected to the security desk and security guard before being escorted out of the building.”
The district says administrators are constantly upgrading plans to ensure students and staff remain safe.
According to records, Swanson was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for child abduction in 1996. He was sentenced to 12 years in 2003 for burglary.
Swanson is lodged in the Winnebago County Jail on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct. Bond has been set at $65,000. He is scheduled to appear in court March 14.
Swanson’ record also includes convictions of aggravated battery of a police officer, domestic battery and disorderly conduct.