A Craigslist-ad tutor charged with child molesting was found guilty by a
jury last week of a lesser charge of battery, the Porter County Prosecuting
Attorney’s Office said.
Brett J. Zagorac, 27, of Munster, had been charged with child molesting, a
Class C felony punishable by a term of two to eight years.
But a jury on Thursday found him guilty of battery, a Class B misdemeanor
punishable by a maximum term of 180 days, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl
Polarek told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday.
Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper granted the motion of Zagorac’s
attorney to instruct the jury to consider the “lesser and included” charge
of misdemeanor battery—with which Zagorac was not specifically
charged—because the facts as presented at trial could have supported such a
charge, Polarek said.
Per Indiana Code, “a person who knowingly or intentionally touches another
person in a rude, insolent, or angry manner commits battery.”
Harper “had to give the jury the option of the lesser and included because
the elements of that offense were part of the child molesting charge,”
Polarek said. “And the jury found him guilty of battery.”
Harper immediately sentenced Zagorac to the maximum term for a Class B
misdemeanor, 180 days in jail. But Zagorac was given credit for time served
while being held in the Porter County Jail—where he was returned after his
bond was revoked on April 28—and released over the weekend. “He did his
time,” Polarek said.
Zagorac did not testify at his trial. The 6-year-boy who accused Zagorac of
rubbing his back did testify, however, Polarek said, and while the boy
wasn’t as detailed in his testimony as she expected him to be, the boy’s
mother was permitted to testify to what the boy had told her about Zagorac.
According to the probable cause affidavit filed by Portage Police, Zagorac
advertised his tutoring services on Craigslist under the name B.J.
Wilhelm—claiming to be licensed teacher—and was hired late last year by a
Portage woman to tutor her son, who was 5 at the time. Zagorac did tutor the
boy, twice a week for three or four weeks, but on Dec. 21 the boy told his
mother after a tutoring session that he did not like it “when my tutor
scratches my back” and that it made him “uncomfortable,” the affidavit
The boy’s mother later learned that there are no licensed teachers in
Indiana or Illinois named B.J. Wilhelm. But the tutor’s vehicle license
number was traced to Zagorac and the boy’s parents learned that “Zagorac had
previous charges of child molesting filed against him for similar acts,” the
“When interviewed by police, Zagorac advised that his mother had posted the
Craigslist ad for him under the name B.J. Wilhelm because “he did not want
people to find out that he had been previously charged with child
molesting,” the affidavit states. Zagorac did deny rubbing the boy’s back.
Meanwhile, Zagorac is facing a similar misdemeanor battery charge in
Evanston, Ill., in connection with an incident involving a 7-year-old girl
whom he was tutoring there, Polarek said. After that investigation came to
light, Harper revoked Zagorac’s bond on April 28 for violating the terms of
his bond by tutoring a child.