Only on News 8: Key Witness in Terronez Investigation Talks – Part 2

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The key witness in the investigation of Rock Island County State’s Attorney Jeff Terronez talks exclusively with News 8 investigative reporter Chris Minor.___________In May of 2010, Rock Island County State’s Attorney Jeff Terronez prosecuted East Moline teacher Jason Van Houtte and sent him to prison, locking him up for ten years for having sex with a student.Within a month of Van Houtte’s sentencing, Terronez began to deliver alcohol to Van Houtte’s now-17-year-old sexual assault victim, known only in court records as JW.  They met in a local park and in area parking lots.

The victim’s 19-year-old friend was there, too.  She spoke exclusively with News 8 reporter Chris Minor.   In this story, we call her The Witness.

Question:  “How many times 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,” The Witness said.

The witness also says Terronez took the party on the road in July 2010, taking both girls to Champaign, Illinois in his black convertible.

“Terronez picked me and JW up at my house and took us to Champaign.  We went to the hotel that he was staying at to get ready and then we all went out to the bars,” said The Witness.

The trio stayed at a Country Inn and Suites hotel, a stone’s throw away from the University of Illinois.  The hotel was booked and paid for by the married State’s Attorney, charged to taxpayers on his Rock Island County credit card.

Question:  “Did he tell you his was married with children?”

“No, he told us he was divorced,” The Witness said.

Terronez and the two underage girls went to Kams, a hot spot on the University of Illinois campus.  At about midnight, the State’s Attorney and the 17-year-old JW went back to the hotel.

Question:  “When you were in Champaign, in the hotel, how long were the two alone?”

“Five hours.  Alone in the hotel room?  Yes,” said The Witness.

What happened inside the hotel room is the million-dollar question.

“JW was on the pull-out couch in the living room area, and Terronez was in the actual bed,” said The Witness.

Question:  “Do you know if those to ever had sex?”

“No,” said The Witness.  “Everyone knows what happened with her and the teacher, but I can’t say anything about her and the State’s Attorney because I never saw anything.”

That’s also what The Witness eventually told a grand jury.

She says all she wanted was a ride to the college town to hang out with her friends.

Question:  “What do you want to clear up?”

“Nothing went on with me and Terronez at all.  He was just an acquaintance.  He gave me a ride to Champaign and he bought me alcohol a few times, that was it,” said The Witness, “I just took the free ride.”

It came at a huge price for the prosecutor, whose job and reputation were on the line as he faced criminal charges.

But before the truth would surface, The Witness says she was asked to lie.