”He would threaten me with cheerleading, getting kicked off cheerleading. He would threaten me, like saying how I drink alcohol and he would report it to the school and get me kicked off cheerleading, or my grades would go bad, he would knock my grades down”, Julie said in an interview with News 8.
That would have been the testimony of the now 16-year old victim,who says the 37-year old history teacher took advantage of her, and ”I felt trapped”.
Vanhoutte plead guilty last week, avoiding a trial. But Julie says she was prepared to take the stand against her former teacher, who she says she trusted and confided in.
”Yea, he was more like a friend. I trusted him”.
Her mom said she was later told that VanHoutte showed up at the cheerleading coach’s house when the girls were picking up their uniforms, and frequented cheerleading practice.
‘He had a plan all along, to get Julie. He’s definitely a professional at what he does inside the classroom, and outside the classroom”, her mom said, adding that her daughter was vulnerable at the time, and ”without a father figure”. Making varsity cheerleading as a sophomore, the most important thing in her life.
In May, Julie says she was going to the prom at Rock Island High School, and she needed her student ID to get in. She contacted a teacher, who then contacted VanHoutte to get her into the school.
”Mr. VanHoutte was the first one that called me and said ‘I have your ID’ and then he started texting me three or four days later”, Julie recalled. After that, it just spiraled.
”He started texting me on May 16th. It was hey, how are you doing, then it was talking about my future, then he started texting me dirty things”, Julie said. ”Things that he wanted to do to me”.
When asked if the teacher appeared concerned about getting caught, she says ”he would text me and say don’t tell anyone, and he’d say shhh-hhh, in a text”.
Her mother Nancy says her daughter had been hospitalized in February of 2009., going through an ”emotional break-down”, and ”VanHoutte knew, because she was in his class. He seemed really concerned, about getting her homework to her, little did I know the way he wanted to help her”, her mom said, who had no idea Julie was dropped off by a friend to VanHoutte’s house.
”I was a victim of sexual abuse, when I adopted Julie I swore she would never have to go through this”, Nancy, who adopted Julie when she was 3 months old said.
In early August, Nancy and her son found x-rated text messages sent to Julie’s phone by VanHoutte. She called his number.
”And Jason answered and said who is this, and I said who is this? He said Jason VanHoutte. I was in shock, immediately he called back and wanted to know who I was. I said this is Julie’s mom and the next call you get you’re not going to like at all”.
VanHoutte then texted her son. ”And said he was very sorry, it wouldn’t happen again, that he loved his job and please don’t turn him in”, Nancy recalled.
Instead, they called police. VanHoutte was questioned by an East Moline detective, and for hours denied ever having Julie at his house. But in a strange irony, Detective Jim Weakley pretended to be VanHoutte’s friend, and he began to change his story.
The teacher eventually admitted having sex with the student four times, and told police ”we kind of played out fantasy through sex”.
Tuesday night at ten, hear some of the police interview, how VanHoutte confessed to the crime, why Julie wants to tell her side of the story, and was prepared to take the stand.