Former Geneseo teacher sentenced to 7 years on child porn charges in Henry County Court

Susan DeVilder
Star Courier

A former Geneseo science teacher will spend seven years in prison after being sentenced on one charge of dissemination of child pornography in the Henry County Circuit Court Thursday. 

Earlier this year, Brian Duwe, 55, Orion, took a negotiated plea on Count One of dissemination of child pornography in exchange for the State dropping eight other counts. 

Duwe was arrested in February of  2021 following an investigation by the Illinois State Police Investigation Unit, which was tipped by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In addition to a prison term of seven years, Judge James Cosby ordered Duwe to pay a fine of $1,000 plus an additional cost of $250 for a DNA assessment. Upon release from prison, Duwe must register as a sex offender and complete 18 months of mandatory-supervised release. 

Henry County State's Attorney Catherine Runty had asked the Court to sentence Duwe to 10 years. Dissemination of Child Pornography is a Class X Felony, punishable by anywhere from 6 to 30 years in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections. 

While Runty acknowledged the defendant had cooperated and been honest with investigators, she called the defendant's actions “shocking” for someone with that level of education. 

In Duwe's words

Duwe addressed the court, and at times, broke down in tears, as he recalled the circumstances that led up to his arrest. He spoke about his 30-year career as a teacher and how he prided himself on trying to teach his students to make good choices. But  it was when COVID hit, he said, that everything changed. According to Duwe, the pandemic provided him with free time that left him bored. He turned to online games such as Yahtzee and discovered chat rooms. 

Duwe was 53 at the time and a gay man, he said. Some of the chats turned “dirty” and sexual. One man he chatted with online told him about the Kik app, a free instant messaging mobile app, and he downloaded it. 

In October of 2020, he began using the app to communicate with men  and joined chat rooms. Between Nov. 10 through the 14th of that year, Duwe said a man, claiming to be 30 years old, started chatting with him and sent him several photos of himself. He then told Duwe that he would send a video of himself performing  a sexual act on himself in exchange for “CP.” 

At the time, Duwe said he had no idea what the man was talking about and asked for clarification. The man, Duwe said, was requesting child pornography. 

Duwe said that although he never viewed them, he had noticed videos that seemed to depict minors and told the man where he thought they could be found. The man later informed him that he was unable to gain access into  those chat rooms and asked if Duwe could repost the videos for him. 

“I knew it was morally wrong to do this,” said Duwe, but admitted to being “aroused” by the man. “Good decision-making played no part.” 

Duwe said he also convinced himself that reposting the videos couldn’t be illegal if the Kik app allowed them 

“I never considered the people in the video or the exploitation,’ Duwe said. 

Duwe also informed the court that up until that week in November, he had never searched the internet for child pornography nor had he ever possessed material of that nature. 

Shortly after the incident with the 30-year old, Duwe said he deleted the Kik app. 

“I know it was wrong and I feel horrible. I have a price to pay as well,” he said, his voice breaking. “I can’t believe I was so stupid and impulsive. I take full responsibility. I am truly sorry.”

'The negative side'

In his decision, Judge Cosby said he was relying on the defendant’s unsworn statement to the Court as well as the pre-sentencing investigation and arguments of both counsel.  The Judge considered several factors in his decision, including the fact that the defendant had caused  no physical harm to another and that Duwe's actions were induced by another. 

“Mr. Duwe is a man of 55 years of age and has no criminal history,” Judge Cosby said. “Up until this offense, he hasn’t broken the law.” 

Cosby also noted that according to an assessment,  Duwe’s risk of reoffending was “very low.” 

“I tend to agree with that,” said Cosby. “Mr Duwe appears to be remorseful, accepts accountability and is ashamed of what he’s done.” 

Cosby said Duwe had  lost everything including his home, his career, his friends and his reputation. The Judge also noted that the defendant’s explanation about how COVID impacted him rang true.

“We live in interesting times,” Judge Cosby said. “The internet has transformed the world we live in, most of it for the better. The negative side is what we are seeing today.” 

The Judge allowed Duwe to  say goodbye to his family before he was  remanded into custody to begin his sentence. He has 30 days to appeal the ruling.