GRAYSLAKE – Last month, Amber Kraus, a former Grant Community High School teacher, pleaded guilty to a sex crime with a student. She admitted an inappropriate relationship months before.
Lake County Suburban Life recently obtained police records from the case, including the previously unreleased statement from Kraus.
In June, Kraus, who had been a science teacher for Grant for eight years, was sentenced to 30 months of probation for aggravated sexual abuse. She was required to register as a sexual predator for the rest of her life. She now lives in an apartment building in Round Lake Beach, according to the state sex offender website.
The quick unraveling of Kraus’ career and reputation began the afternoon of Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.
That was when a parent called Jeremy Schmidt, principal of Grant Community High School in Fox Lake, and told him he was concerned about a teacher, according to the principal’s statement to police. The man would only give his first name. He told the principal the teacher was texting his son a lot, often about topics that had nothing to do with school. He wouldn’t give details.
The principal, according to his statement to police, immediately called Superintendent Christine Sefcik.
The father then called again, this time revealing his name and the teacher’s. The parent said he was willing to present evidence.
The administrators, in response, agreed to investigate.
On the morning of Sunday, Oct. 6, the man called the principal again. The father had found his son at Kraus’ apartment in Grayslake on Saturday night. He called Kraus and told her she needed to resign or he was going to the police.
He said his son admitted to a sexual relationship with Kraus, according to police records.
According to those records:
The principal called Kraus, and she agreed to meet at the school office at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 6. Both the superintendent and principal were there. A Fox Lake police officer was present, but stayed outside the meeting room.
The administrators confronted her with the allegations.
“[Kraus] immediately said ‘this is it then?’ and something equivalent to this ‘thing’ has cost me my job at Grant High School,” Sefcik wrote in her statement to police.
What is that “thing”? the superintendent asked.
Kraus told the administrators that the boy had been to her apartment three times and that they were fully naked and “used their hands.” But they didn’t have sex, the teacher said.
She acknowledged very explicit messages about having sex, but said it did not actually happen.
The relationship started three weeks earlier, she said.
The superintendent asked Kraus to write a statement about her relationship with the boy, and the teacher did.
The boy was a student in her advanced placement chemistry class; he was in her honors chemistry class the year before.
“This student had my personal phone number – many students do since someone got a hold of it a few years ago,” Kraus wrote. “This student began to text me or Facetime me for help with the summer packet at the beginning of the school year,” a couple of months before.
As the year progressed, she said, the texts became more personal, some of them sexual.
“There were a lot of texts describing sexual activity as if we were doing them. About three weeks ago, the idea of hanging out arose,” she wrote in the statement.
The boy went to her apartment.
“While the texts were graphic in nature, describing acts of oral sex and intercourse, the actual physical activity in person was kissing or hands/groping/fondling with little to no clothes on,” Kraus said.
She said she never had a relationship with another student, calling what happened an isolated event.
“Nothing ever happened while at school – it was only at my apartment,” Kraus wrote. “I believe we behaved professionally while at school and did not give any indication that something was happening outside of school.”
All his academic work, she said, was graded on merit.
“It was kept completely separate from the private interactions,” she said. “We did agree that it needed to stop, and it wasn’t appropriate. We did try for one week to not text or speak to each other, but it did not last.”
According to the superintendent’s statement to police:
After Kraus had written her statement, Sefcik asked her whether she had realized the magnitude of her actions.
The teacher said she did. Sefcik asked whether Kraus wanted to resign, to which Kraus immediately submitted a letter of resignation.
“Very concerning to me,” the superintendent wrote in her statement, “is she showed no emotion or remorse for what had taken place. She stated each of these things very matter-of-factly.”
The Fox Lake officer contacted the Grayslake Police Department to see whether it wanted to speak with Kraus, given that her alleged crimes happened in Grayslake’s jurisdiction. Grayslake declined to go there then, but began its investigation the next day.
A detective interviewed Kraus’ former colleagues and others to try to determine whether she had targeted other children. No other victims turned up.
On Nov. 7, Grayslake police arrested Kraus.
Grayslake Police Chief Phillip Perlini said the case involved “a successful prosecution of the offender without undo harm to the juvenile victim or his family.”
A spokeswoman for the superintendent said the district wouldn’t comment on the case.
‘Teacher took advantage of position’
Sharmili Majmudar, executive director of Rape Victim Advocates, said a teacher is violating the public trust when she preys on students, wherever the inappropriate conduct happens.
“She still has a responsibility as a teacher – ethically and morally. She created a rationale and a justification,” Majmudar said.
Cases involving female teachers and male victims, she said, are often not treated as seriously.
“There is a lot in our culture about the hot teacher. Boys are always supposed to want sex, they are not rational when it comes to women. That’s all false,” Majmudar said. “A teacher took advantage of her position.”