A Chicago Public Schools employee in the South Side Kenwood neighborhood was ordered held in lieu of $1 million bail Thursday on child pornography charges.
Eric Shank Van Eenige, who is married and has a four-year-old daughter, cannot have contact with any minors or go on the Internet while he awaits trial, Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. also said.
After Van Eenige was led back to the holding area by sheriff’s deputies in court Thursday afternoon, Bourgeois ordered the 39-year-old back to tell him that he cannot be within a hundred feet of any Chicago Public School.
Van Eenige is an administrative employee at Ariel Community Academy at 1119 E. 46thStreet, according to the State’s Attorney’s Office.
During an investigation conducted by the Cook County Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Van Eenige sent 100 files containing the pornography to a task force member, Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Cooper said.
Investigators eventually executed a search warrant at Van Eenige’s house, in the 600 block of West 48th Street.
There, authorities found a laptop with the illegal material, Cooper said. Most of the children in the images were under the age of 13, Cooper said.
Van Eenige was arrested on Wednesday.
Van Eenige’s wife didn’t use the laptop and said her husband takes the laptop to and from work, Cooper said.
Assistant public defender Sandra Bennewitz said that Van Eenige should be allowed near his daughter since she did not see the pornography nor was depicted in the videos and pictures.
But Bourgeois didn’t buy Bennewitz’s argument.
“My problem with this is that he is employed by the Chicago Public Schools,” the judge said, noting the serious allegations.
Bennewitz said Van Eenige has worked at Ariel Community Academy for the last 10 years.
“Chicago Public Schools’ top priority is the safety and well being of its students,” a CPS spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday.
“We take any allegations of illegal activity very seriously, and we are taking the appropriate steps to ensure our students are protected. We are cooperating with the Chicago Police Department and cannot comment on an ongoing investigation,” according to the statement.
Contributing: Rummana Hussain