A former River Forest church official is again facing charges of sexually abusing a child — this time a 9-year-old boy from the church with whom he was watching a movie last year, authorities said.
John Hays, 57, of Chicago, was ordered held on $150,000 bond Friday on a second charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
The alleged incident happened in Oct. 2013, when Hays visited the boy after he had surgery, prosecutors said. Hays had jumped into the same bed with the boy and allegedly touched the child inappropriately as he was falling asleep, prosecutors said.
At the time, Hays was working as the director of congregational life at First Presbyterian Church of River Forest. The victim and his family attended worship services there. Hays was an ordained minister, but did not serve as a pastor at the Presbyterian church, according to Kevin Murphy, an elder at the church. He was dismissed May 26, Murphy said
Local police learned last month that a child may have been sexual abused last year in a River Forest home. Detectives interviewed the victim and witnesses with help from the Cook County state’s attorney’s advocacy unit and Proviso Children’s Advocacy Center.
River Forest Police Chief Gregory Weiss said in a statement: “Our hearts reach out to the victim and family in this incident, and to all families who have been violated in this way.”
Prosecutors said Hays admitted to the 2013 incident in May 2014, when he was first investigated for a similar incident. He was charged in June with aggravated criminal sexual abuse for that case.
The alleged victim in that case, now an adult, remembered that while training to become a camp counselor he had been attacked years ago by Hays, his neighbor, authorities said. The victim’s parents confronted Hays, kicking off the criminal investigation.
Prosecutors said Hays admitted to sexually abusing that man from the time he was 8 until he was 13 years old. The boy at the time often visited the neighbor’s home to play with Hays’ sons. The victim was allegedly fondled and groped in “tickle games” and while being driven to school.