St. Charles youth center guard charged with abuse appears in court

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Andre McFarland

The first of four Illinois Youth Center-St. Charles guards indicted on a variety of criminal charges involving wrongdoing at the facility made his initial court appearance Wednesday.

Andre McFarland, 31, of Rockford, is charged with a total of nine felony counts alleging, among other things, that he observed and helped encourage attacks among juvenile detainees at the center just west of St. Charles. Free on $30,000 bail, McFarland appeared before Kane County Judge David Kliment with a private attorney. Kliment scheduled a Jan. 12 hearing for McFarland to be formally arraigned.

On Monday, Kane County prosecutors announced indictments against McFarland and three other Youth Center employees – Johan Asiata, 30, of Channahon; Michael Klimek, 40, of Yorkville; and Elliott Short, 34, of St. Charles – in connection to a series of January incidents at the facility. Led by Klimek, the four prompted certain detainees to commit attacks on others as "a form of discipline," according to authorities.

A grand jury Nov. 22 issued a 76-count indictment against Klimek that includes official misconduct, aggravated battery, unlawful restraint, mob action and misdemeanor theft. Asiata was indicted on official misconduct, aggravated battery and unlawful restraint charges, while Short’s indictment includes official misconduct and aggravated battery counts. The four, who have each been placed on paid administrative leave, worked as juvenile justice specialists during the incidents, which occurred on six occasions between Jan. 9 and 28 of this year, prosecutors said.

Asiata, Short and Klimek are each scheduled to appear in court next week when their respective arraignment dates are likely to be set.

Illinois Youth Center-St. Charles opened in 1904 and currently serves as a medium-security facility, as well as a reception center for most male detainees processed by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, according to the department’s website.

Dan Campana is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News