RENSSELAER — A Kankakee Valley Middle School teacher arrested on felony child molestation charges had his bond reduced by Jasper County Superior Court Judge Russell Bailey during an initial hearing at the county courthouse on Feb. 26.
Bailey initially dropped the amount from $50,000 to $10,000 cash, which gives Matthew T. Hostetler, 27, of Valparaiso, the opportunity to bond out of jail quicker than county prosecutor Jacob Taulman anticipated.
Bailey’s decision was later amended to $100,000 surety or $10,000 cash, meaning Hostetler would have to come up with $10,000 to get out of jail. While he was happy to see the decision amended, Taulman said he would have liked to see the bond amount stay at $50,000 to make it more difficult for Hostetler.
“(The decision) was done over the objection of my office and the victim’s mother, who testified at the hearing (Friday),” Taulman said. “The probation department recommended the bond not be changed also.
“We argued there is an ongoing investigation suggesting additional victims. That he was in a position of trust and authority of the students he victimized and that these events happened on school property with all suggesting a larger threat to the community.”
Taulman said Bailey made the decision to reduce bond due to the “defendant’s criminal history and that he maintains a presumption of innocence in the case. He (Bailey) didn’t feel it appropriate to leave the bond where it was.”
Hostetler was arrested by Jasper County Sheriff’s deputies on Feb. 19 on an allegation of inappropriate communication and touching between he and a student. He was transported to the Jasper County Detention Center and charged with one count of child molestation, a Level 1 felony.
Taulman said an investigation continues and more charges may be filed this week.
“He admitted to having done this and having had inappropriate contact with other students,” Taulman said. “While we continue the investigation to identify victims and collect evidence, we’re not able to file any additional charges today (Friday). But I anticipate next week we will be able to file an additional charge or two.”
There are stipulations should Hostetler bond out of jail. He is not to leave the state nor have contact with the victims. He cannot have contact with anyone under the age of 18 and he is to be supervised by the probation department.
An omnibus hearing is set for April 21, with a pretrial conference set for June 2 at the courthouse. Hostetler is represented by Valparaiso attorney Jesse Harper.