Convicted Sex Offender, James Cornelius, Arrested 2 Days After Entering Woodstock High School

James Cornelius, age 22, a male convicted of sexually abusing a 15 year-old girl at a high school party in 2013 when he was 18, was arrested Wednesday October 3, 2018 after police said he entered Woodstock High School, 501 West South Street on Monday afternoon October 1, 2018.

James Cornelius, of the block of 300 block of West Calhoun Street, Woodstock, was taken into custody at the McHenry County Jail on Wednesday afternoon on a felony charge of being a child sex offender in a school zone.

James Cornelius, convicted child sex offender Woodstock
James Cornelius.

On Tuesday, faculty members notified a high school resource officer that a former Woodstock High School student, whom they believed was a registered sex offender, had entered the Woodstock High School building on Monday, according to a news release from the Woodstock Police Department.

Police and school officials reviewed the school’s surveillance videos and confirmed that Cornelius had entered the school about 4:00 p.m. and left about 4:10 p.m., according to Woodstock Police Department. Students were present in the school building at the time.

On Wednesday, Woodstock police found Cornelius at 8:15 a.m. in the block of 1200 Walden Oaks Drive — about a mile from his apartment in a 2 1/2-story house on Calhoun Street. Cornelius was arrested on a warrant via the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. Cornelius was also found to be in possession of marijuana, police said. Cornelius was confined to McHenry County Jail by 10:00 a.m.

Cornelius’ bond is set at $10,000 ( $1,000 needed for release). If convicted of the charge of being a child sex offender in a school zone, Cornelius could be sentenced one to three years in prison.

His next scheduled McHenry County court date is Tuesday October 16, 2018.

District officials believe Cornelius “might have been trying to speak with staff members or former staff” when he entered the high school Monday, Woodstock School District 200 Associate Superintendent Brian McAdow said in a statement.

“Mr. Cornelius either knew or should have known that it was illegal for him to be on school property. We appreciate our strong partnership with Woodstock police and their efforts to investigate this matter. We will continue to work with them to investigate anyone who unlawfully enters school property.”

— Brian McAdow, Woodstock School District 200 Associate Superintendent

Cornelius, described as a male/black, 6’1″ 235 LBS born October 5 1995 who initially denied the allegations in May 2014, pleaded guilty in August 2014 to criminal sexual abuse – a misdemeanor conviction that barred him from being on school property. In May 2014 James Cornelius had pleaded not guilty to felony sexual assault and misdemeanor sexual abuse charges.

Cornelius was one of four teens arrested in 2014 in connection with an alleged sexual assault of the 15-year-old girl.

Police at the time said Cornelius and two others sexually assaulted the girl while another juvenile videotaped the act. Video of the alleged assault was believed to have been posted on Facebook and used to intimidate the girl into further sex acts. The video was removed.

Prosecutors have said that all of the teens were drinking alcohol the night of the assault, which occurred December 27, 2013.

The girl’s father notified police in February 2014.

Corion Simpson, was charged as an adult in connection with the 2013 assault. Simpson was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child.

The Woodstock Police Department worked in coordination with the faculty and administrators at Woodstock High School and District 200 during the investigation.

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