JANESVILLE—The Edison Middle School teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a middle school student was warned in early 2014 to stop having personal conversations with the student, Superintendent Karen Schulte said.
Aaron O'Reilly was told to stop personal email conversations with the student after she came to him about a nonschool-related issue in February or March 2014, Schulte said.
"It was a personal issue to the victim with adults outside of our employment," Schulte said. "So we had nothing to do with that. The connection was, she was reporting it to Aaron O'Reilly as a teacher and a trusted confidant."
"As stated previously, the district did not have any prior knowledge of the improper physical contact between O'Reilly and the student, which led to his arrest on May 6," she said. "The district did, however, have information of a situation in 2014 where the student confided to O'Reilly regarding matters of a personal nature that involved an individual not affiliated with the School District of Janesville."
O'Reilly, 44, of 122 Dakota St., Edgerton, was charged Monday with repeated sexual assault of a child and child enticement. He has been a special education teacher at Edison Middle School since June 2000. He was arrested Friday by Janesville police.
The sexual assaults occurred between Jan. 1, 2014, and Aug. 3, 2015, according to the criminal complaint.
Schulte said it is unclear how long after O'Reilly was told to stop personal conversations with the student that the physical relationship began, or if it was already happening.
"Did one lead to the other? I do not know that," Schulte said.
Schulte said O'Reilly followed procedure in reporting the girl's concerns about other adults in her life, and a police investigation determined the situation was unsubstantiated.
"The police informed building administration of their findings and closed their investigation," Schulte said.
During O'Reilly's discussions with the female student, nothing happened that was illegal or would cause the school district to act, Schulte said. However, O'Reilly used "terms of endearment" in personal emails to the student, which prompted police to alert building administrators, who advised O'Reilly to stop personal conversations with the student, she said.
O'Reilly was using his own electronic devices to contact the student, not school district email, Schulte said.
"Based on information provided by the police and information staff told building administration, building administration consulted with district officials, who then directed O'Reilly to discontinue any personal conversations with the student," Schulte said.
Schulte said O'Reilly was also warned by his principal to meet the student in public places after staffers noticed the girl was spending time in O'Reilly's classroom during lunch and at other times during the school day.
"Some staff said, 'You know, she's up in his room all the time, having lunch in his room,'" Schulte said. "So again, nobody came forward with the inappropriate physical contact or anything that I would consider would rise to the level of a great concern, but they must have felt like something was a little odd."
The sexual encounters between O'Reilly and the student began sometime in early 2014 and continued for about 18 months. The student had sex with O'Reilly about five times, ending in summer 2015, according to the criminal complaint.
Police became aware of O'Reilly's relationship with the student after his therapist contacted Edgerton police the night of April 25. O'Reilly had sent a text message to the therapist, saying he "was feeling suicidal because he had a relationship with a minor female," according to the criminal complaint.
The girl told police the relationship started when O'Reilly was tutoring her after school at Edison, according to the criminal complaint.
A search warrant affidavit filed April 26 in Rock County Court says O'Reilly admitted to having sex with the student when she was "14 or 15 years old." The warrant requested electronic devices at O'Reilly's home "capable of storing digital media, digital conversations and pictures."
The warrant states O'Reilly had a cellphone containing conversations between "himself and a 13-year-old girl," in which he called her "honey," "sweetie" and "sweetheart."
Police executed the search warrant and confiscated a computer, three cellphones, an iPod, a hard drive, a cloud storage device, an iPad, a PALM electronic device and a computer tower.
O'Reilly was put on paid leave April 26, the same day school officials learned of the investigation. He has a preliminary court hearing May 23.