Only on News 8: Key Witness in Terronez Investigation Talks – Part 1
After high school teacher Jason Van Houtte pleaded guilty to having sex with a 15-year-old student last year, prosecutor Jeff Terronez helped send him to prison for ten years.
“I think it will hit home when he turns himself in, I do believe he understood what he did was wrong,” Terronez said about the Van Houtte case.
But as the Van Houtte case came to and end in court, the relationship between tought-talking prosecutor Jeff Terronez and the sexual assault victim in the Van Houtte case did not end.
The victim is known only in court documents at JW.
News 8 investigative reporter Chris Minor spoke exclusively with the witness with whom JW was friends during her relationship with Terronez.
“He was the prosecutor through the Van Houtte case, and he was her friend. From what I saw, they talked quite often,” said The Witness.
Question: “Were they texting back and forth at the end of the trial?”
“They texted quite often. He tried to be a friend to her, is what I could see, always asking how she was doing,” said The Witness.
In the days after the trial, the texting turned into illegal special deliveries from the 39-year-old State’s Attorney to the 17-year-old Van Houtte victim and her 19-year-old friend.
Terronez began providing booze on demand to the two teenaged girls, meeting them in an East Moline, Illinois park and in parking lots of fast food restaurants.
Question: “How often would he buy you alcohol?”
“There were quite a few times, he had bought us alcohol about five times. I’d say she’d ask him to get us alcohol, we’d drive and he’d meet us at several different places,” said The Witness.
Question: “So, JW would text Terronez and he would buy the alcohol?”
“Text him and say she wanted him to buy us alcohol, and then he’d deliver it. Yes,” said The Witness.
“He’s come meet us at Mitchell Park, Jewel parking lot, behind McDonald’s, Hardees,” said The Witness.
Question: “What kind?”
“Mike’s Hard, it was pretty much Mike’s Hard,” said The Witness.
In late June 2010, the girls even posed with a six pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and posted the photo on the Van Houtte victim’s Facebook page.
“I thought it was kind of weird, a guy his age was doing all this stuff with us, having contact with us,” The Witness said.
The Witness, a friend of the Van Houtte victim, said when it came to Terronez she was just along for the ride, having harmless fun with the State’s Attorney picking up alcohol and the tab.
Question: “Did he ever promise you guys any trips?”
“He said he was going to take us to California at one point,” said The Witness.
Flying to California never happened, but a college road trip did happen. That took the case to a whole new level.