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April 23, 2024

Gym owner admits to coworker he lied; testimony about audiotape given –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On December 9, 2015

Charleston, IL. (ECWd) –

COLES CO. – The preliminary hearing held in October for a local gym coach was a startling one, according to the reactions of those in the courtroom hearing the testimony for the first time.
Zac Lawson, the 33-year-old former coach and owner of Sun Elite Gymnastics and Tumbling in Charleston, stands charged with a single count of Unauthorized Videotaping.
That count was the basis of testimony elicited by the Illinois State Police trooper who investigated the case, as given on Monday, October 19, at Lawson’s preliminary hearing, which he likely should have waived…since there was so much more coming out in the testimony than even that with which Lawson has been charged.
On September 4, a single charge was filed by Coles County prosecutor Brian Bower  – that of the unauthorized videotaping, wherein it’s alleged that Lawson placed a video recording device or transmitter in a restroom at the gym facility, which is located on North Loxa Road near Charleston, and actually made a recording which was subsequently transmitted. To where, or to whom, has not been made public.
The device was discovered earlier this year (March 23) and the discovery shut down the gym temporarily while ISP agents swept the 14,000-square foot building to make sure that the one they’d been tipped on was the ONLY one, which apparently it was.
However, at the time of the filing and of Lawson turning himself in on the warrant September 8, Bower seemed to be quick to point out that there was “no evidence that there was any sexual component” in regards to the device nor any transmission of whatever it might have recorded. However, he did initially allude to the fact that SOMETHING was captured on the recording.
Lawson’s HSCA
Upon publication of the gym’s temporary shut-down March 24, Lawson had a high-speed comeapart and contacted area media outlets, including television in Champaign, insistent that Disclosure’s online coverage was inaccurate and that not only had his gym not been shut down and locked (an act ISP had taken to ensure no one else connected with the facility could gain access while the physical investigation was going on), but that there was no suspicion of a recording device on the premises, something Disclosure had been assured was the situation, this by sources close to the case.
According to testimony on Oct. 19, however, there was more to it than just the recording/transmission device.
At that time, the court was told during the hearing set to present enough evidence on the charge that it would bind Lawson over for trial, that Lawson’s phone had also been confiscated on the day the gym was shut and locked.
On that phone, ISP testified, was communication between Lawson and many of his students at the gym. And while none of the communication was sexual or even suggestive in nature, the very fact that he was texting his underage charges – and at 2 and 3 in the morning, no less – could most assuredly be considered inappropriate.
However, it was what ISP testified was found on the phone in between the texts that was the most disturbing.
With Lawson’s wife sitting present in the courtroom in Charleston, the trooper explained that the agency had discovered, in between the text messages, evidence that Lawson had been viewing pornography that purported to show “young teen girls” in hardcore sex acts.
Whether or not this was porn that used actual underage girls (which is routinely produced and distributed out of Denmark, Russia, and other locales in Europe and Asia, all a part of the international sex slave trade) was not discussed.
Lawson’s wife was reported as “devastated” at this testimony (apparently she hadn’t been apprised of this aspect of the investigation, by her husband or anyone else) and his attorney Jay Ferguson was reported as “outraged,” as apparently he wasn’t fully aware of what the ISP investigation had turned up, either.
Ferguson, as a matter of fact, was throughout the hearing attempting to say that a witness by the name of “Trey” (possibly a student/former student at the gym, reportedly someone who is helping keep the facility going at the present time) was actually the one who had “set up” Lawson, and had been the one who had set the recording device in place.
ISP testimony, however, elicited that this person, Trey, had been the one to whom Lawson had, during a recorded phone conversation, admitted that he (Lawson) had placed the recording device in the bathroom. According to information elicited at hearing, Trey had caught Lawson in a series of lies that ISP was easily able to disprove.
The judge laughed at the suggested that Trey was wholly responsible for Lawson’s alleged acts; then bound Lawson over for trial.
There has been no official indication that any further charges might be filed against Lawson. However, sources close to the investigation have advised Disclosure that the ISP examination of the recording device has not been concluded yet. More detailed information emerging about that device and what it allegedly contained, as well as the alleged pornography on the confiscated phone, might very well lead to more charges.
Lawson has entered a not guilty plea, and the case is moving forward. A status hearing on the charge had been set for November 23 in front of Judge Teresa K. Righter.
This story, and more available at (HERE) Subscription
Lawson_1 (WinCE)

Mugshot: Lawson


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  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 15:57h, 09 December

    Interesting story to say the least. We shall all see how this plays out in court now. Lots of questions remain obviously. Hopefully they get answered now finally.

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 17:37h, 09 December

    (d) Sentence.         (1) A violation of subsection (a-10), (a-15), or    (a-20) is a Class A misdemeanor.       
     (2) A violation of subsection (a), (a-5), or (a-6) is    a Class 4 felony.      
      (3) A violation of subsection (a-25) is a Class 3    felony.        (4) A violation of subsection (a), (a-5), (a-6),    (a-10), (a-15) or (a-20) is a Class 3 felony if the victim is a person UNDER 18 years of age or if the violation is committed by an individual who is required to register as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act.
    Just to clarify the single charge currently against this person.
     (720 ILCS 5/26-4) (from Ch. 38, par. 26-4)     Sec. 26-4. Unauthorized video recording and live video transmission.   
     (a) It is unlawful for any person to knowingly make a video record or transmit live video of another person without that person’s consent in a restroom, tanning bed, tanning salon, locker room, changing room, or hotel bedroom. 
    So apparently our Coles County States Attorney Brian Bower charged this defendant with a single Class 4 felony, NOT a Class 3 (which applies to recording a person (minor) in a locker room UNDER 18 years old). So if the victim is apparently an adult obviously, who is the victim… or was there a victim recorded on this alleged video recording? What specifically was recorded on this alleged video recording? What does “something” mean? Lots of questions remain obviously. Hopefully justice is served based on the evidence in this case.

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 19:28h, 09 December

     (720 ILCS 5/26-4) (from Ch. 38, par. 26-4)     Sec. 26-4. Unauthorized video recording and live video transmission.   
     (a) It is unlawful for any person to knowingly make a video record or transmit live video of another person without that person’s consent in a restroom, tanning bed, tanning salon, locker room, changing room, or hotel bedroom. 
    Who is the person(s) recorded in this alleged video recording? What is a “something” …that was video recorded mean, a person or thing? Obviously, it’s NOT a person UNDER 18 years old…or it would be a Class 3 felony under this statute, NOT as this defendant is charged with a Class 4 felony. Lots of questions remain unanswered. Hopefully justice is served based on the evidence presented in court. I suspect a jury will decide that in the end.

  • Chris M. Gaines
    Posted at 07:54h, 11 December

    Why was this not investigated by our local Coles County Sheriff Department who was the law enforcement department who had primary jurisdiction over this area of Coles County located by Sara Bush Lincoln hospital in a rual area, not within city limits of Mattoon or Charleston? Why was our Illinois State Police (Zone 5 Investigations) ask by our Coles County Sheriff Department to investigate these allegations instead? What specifically was the conflict of interest, if there was one? And why was these allegations not reported by ANY other local newspapers, TV stations or online sources anywhere else besides the Disclosure website? Cover up? Why? Seems strange to say the least. Lots of questions remain obviously. This story still doesn’t add up. Until it does I will continue to ask more questions, as we all should apparently now. Ask more questions, expect honest answers and accurate reporting of the evidence in public. Expect justice to be served in a jury trial in this case, not plea deals or back room negotiations with lawyers. Expect the Truth to be made public now. Why did this investigation by ISP take over 6 months… to conclude with our Coles County States Attorney Brian Bower to decide to finally file a single charge like this one? …why is this investigation reportedly still ongoing? Is this a normal investigative procedure in a case like this? All questions that obviously need answered to determine the Truth about these allegations. Consider this before you arrive at a conclusion please. Thank you. Have a nice day.