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A former teacher at schools around the North Shore pleaded not guilty Monday, Dec. 3, to more than five dozen felony counts of child pornography and sexual assault charges.
Mathew Laird, 33, of the 3900 block of Triumvera Drive in Glenview, was arraigned on 64 felony charges during a short hearing Monday at the Cook County Second District Courthouse in Skokie.
After the charges were read, Ralph Meczyk, Laird’s attorney, told Judge Lauren Edidin his client “pleads not guilty to all charges.”
Laird was arrested Oct. 23 at his home and charged with five felonies, including criminal sexual assault and possession and distribution of child pornography.
Laird was charged with sexual assault after a young woman reported to authorities that Laird assaulted her in late 2012 or early 2013 following a night of studying for college exams.
Prosecutors said the woman told police she fell asleep and awoke to Laird groping and raping her. He continued to assault her after she woke up and told him to stop, prosecutors said.
During a search of Laird’s home in September, Glenview police discovered Laird videotaped a portion of the alleged assault and uploaded it to an adult-pornography website without the woman’s consent.
Police also found “several hundred” pornographic images and videos of former high school students. Police also discovered pornographic materials depicting adults engaging in sexual activity with children as young as 3 years old, prosecutors have said.
At the end of October, Assistant State’s Attorney Andreana Turano told the court Laird was facing additional charges after more victims came forward to authorities to report they were shown in the materials found during the September search of Laird’s home.
New case, new charges
Since that Oct. 30 hearing, prosecutors have filed almost 60 new charges against Laird, according to court documents.
Prosecutors have charged the former Loyola Academy and North Shore Special Education District educator with one count of aggravated criminal assault, a Class X felony; one count of criminal sexual assault - nonconsensual, a Class 1 felony; two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony; two counts of criminal sexual abuse - nonconsensual and one count of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, both Class 4 felonies.
Laird’s charges also include 55 counts related to child pornography:
Dissemination of child pornography: victim under 13 - Class X felony - four counts
Dissemination of child pornography - Class 1 felony - 10 counts
Possession of child pornography - Class 2 felony - 10 counts
Possession of child pornography: victim under 13 - Class 2 felony - 19 counts
Possession of child pornography (videos) - Class 3 felony - 12 counts
Laird also pleaded not guilty Monday to two Class 1 felony counts of criminal sexual assault - victim between 13 and 17.
After Laird’s arrest in October, prosecutors filed five felony charges against Laird in two separate cases — one for the sexual assault charges and another for the child pornography charges.
A Cook County judge initially denied bail for Laird before reducing his bail to $500,000 for the three child pornography charges he faced and $250,000 for the two sexual assault charges against him.
A grand jury, however, indicted Laird on 64 charges split across three cases in November. On Monday, Judge Edidin denied bail for Laird on the third case, meaning Laird will not be able to leave the Cook County Jail even if he posts $75,000 to satisfy bail on the other two cases.
In court, Meczyk said Laird, his client, would likely not be able to post $75,000 to be released while awaiting trial.
Laird’s next hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.
Teaching, coaching career
Laird worked as a teacher at North Shore Academy in Highland Park from the fall of 2017 until Sept. 18 of this year, when the Glenview Police Department notified the North Shore Special Education District of an ongoing criminal investigation into Laird for alleged internet crimes against children.
He taught English at Loyola Academy in Wilmette from 2011 to 2014 and served as a scholastic bowl moderator at the school from 2004 to 2008 and from 2010 to 2014, according to Loyola Academy President Patrick McGrath and Principal Charles Heintz.
After leaving Loyola Academy in 2014, Laird worked as a question-writer for National Academic Quiz Tournaments LLC for about nine months, from September 2014 until the summer of 2015.
Laird also recently served as a moderator for a scholastic club at Stevenson High School.
Before his arrest, Laird was employed by Amazon, Meczyk has said.