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Officials: Cherry Valley cop had sex with minor in youth program

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD — A Cherry Valley police officer has been charged with multiple felonies alleging he had sex with an underage girl who was part of the department’s Explorer Program for teenagers.

Jason Personette, 35, was charged with five counts of criminal sexual assault of a victim between the ages of 13 and 17 with whom he held a position of trust, authority or supervision. The assaults occurred between August and November 2017, officials said.

The charges were first on Wednesday.

“No one is above the law,” Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato said at a Thursday press conference, “and everyone is accountable for their actions.”

According to documents, on at least once occasion Personette had sex with the minor in a squad car and another time at the Cherry Valley Police Department headquarters. Officials say the assaults occurred at multiple places around Winnebago County.

Cherry Valley Police Chief Robert Swank said he reported Personette to the Winnebago County sheriff’s office as soon as he became aware of the alleged assaults, sometime in January. Swank, a former sergeant with the sheriff’s department, became chief of the Cherry Valley force in late November 2017.

Personette was booked at the Winnebago County Jail on Wednesday evening and is expected before a judge Thursday afternoon.

The Explorers Program has been suspended by the department as the investigation continues.

Personette joined the Cherry Valley Police Department in 2015. He has been placed on paid administrative leave, officials said.

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