Christian County man charged with soliciting child


A local man well-trusted by many parents is now behind bars after police said he was having an inappropriate relationship with a young child.

Police know of one victim, a 16-year-old boy, but they're asking for the public's help because they believe there could be more victims in Christian or Sangamon County.

James M. Owens VII, 43, has been charged with indecent solicitation of a child. He was arrested Thursday after police found out he had reached out to the local 16 year old for sexual favors on Facebook.

Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp of the Christian County Sheriff's office said that all of this took place back in December 2012, but the investigation started just two weeks ago when the sheriff said the 16 year old noticed Owens working as a bus driver.  That's when the boy told bus officials who then informed Taylorville High School. Kettelkamp said Owens just started working as a bus driver in April after the alleged incident occurred.

The Durham Bus Service, who currently employs Owens, told WAND Owens was put on leave immediately once they heard about the investigation. Owens has a history of working with children in the community as a former volunteer fireman, minister and chaplain.

"I believe he is portraying himself as a person that's in the position of trust, and I believe he's doing this to reach out and seek and to pray on young men here in Christian County and other surrounding counties for sexual favors," said Sheriff Kettelkamp.

Owens appeared in court Friday morning. His bond is set at $50,000.

If you have any information about this case the Christian County Sheriff's Office asked that you contact them or the Illinois State Police Investigative Unit.

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