Bail was set Thursday at $1 million for a convicted sex offender from Naperville’s northeast side, who stands accused of having had sexually-charged Facebook conversations with teenage girls from Batavia, Oswego and St. Charles.
Eric T. Hakala, 37, lives on the 1100 block of Iroquois Avenue, near the Ogden Mall in Naperville. Police arrested him about 4:11 p.m. Tuesday at his home.
Hakala faces trial on a total of 15 felony charges of indecent solicitation of a child, grooming, possession of harmful material and possession of child pornography.
DuPage County Circuit Court Judge Anthony Coco on Thursday set Hakala’s bail at $1 million. Hakala will need to post $100,000 cash in order to be released while awaiting trial.
Hakala’s arrest followed a seven-month-long investigation by members of the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Batavia, Naperville and Oswego police departments, Naperville police Sgt. Lou Cammiso said.
Hakala is accused of creating a Facebook account using the alias Mike Evans, in which he described himself as being a 15-year-old student at St. Charles East High School, Cammiso said Wednesday. The account was illustrated with a bogus photograph of a brown-haired, teenage boy.
“It is alleged that with this fictitious Facebook account, he was able to carry on conversations through Facebook with minor children,” Cammiso said of Hakala.
Members of the Naperville Police Department’s High Technology Crime Unit also discovered “Hakala had been allegedly having numerous sexual conversations, as well as trading inappropriate pictures, with several minor children over Facebook” in the guise of Mike Evans, Cammiso said.
Those youths were residents of the Batavia-St. Charles area. Cammiso said Batavia police subsequently “identified several local teenage victims.”
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin on Thursday added Hakala allegedly used the Facebook account “to have sexual conversations with and send sexually explicit photographs to underage girls.”
“The investigation also revealed that Hakala allegedly possessed more than 100 images and videos of child pornography,” Berlin said in a news release.
Police are asking parents and guardians in the Oswego-Batavia-St. Charles area “to sit with their teen children and go over their Facebook friends, and the cell phone application KIK for the ‘Mike Evans’ account in their friends and/or contact list,” Cammiso said.
“If contact has been made with your teen, please do not report this activity to Facebook,” Cammiso said. “Preserve any and all conversations and photos your teen may have exchanged with the Mike Evans Facebook account.”
Cammiso also asked concerned parents to call the Naperville police High Technology Crimes Unit, at 630-305-5384; or the Batavia police Investigations Unit, at 630-454-2500.
Jim Blaney, director of school and community relations for St. Charles Community Unit School District 303, on Thursday sent an e-mail to parents concerning the matter. It essentially reiterated the information provided by police, along with their recommendations.
“We would like to note that we have no record of (Eric) Hakala ever attending a District 303 school, and that currently there are no students named Mike Evans attending either of our high schools,” Blaney wrote.
“We also would like to take this opportunity to remind all parents that knowing the log-ins and passwords for your child’s social media accounts, and periodically monitoring the postings on those accounts, are highly recommended,” Blaney said.
Hakala on Jan. 3, 2000 went to the Parkside Skating Rink near Aurora, where he anticipated meeting and then having sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl he had met via the Internet. Instead, detectives from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on a charge of indecent solicitation of a child.
Hakala at the time was 23, working as a telephone line installer and living on East Bailey Road in central Naperville. A sheriff’s investigator posed as a 13-year-old girl during sexually-explicit, Internet conversations with him.
Authorities said Hakala brought condoms with him when he went to meet the “girl” at the rink, which is located on Montgomery Road.
A Kane County Circuit Court judge on Jan. 31, 2001 convicted Hakala of indecent solicitation of a child, according to court records. He was sentenced to six months in jail, ordered to perform 480 hours of community service work, ordered to register as a sex offender and placed on two years of “extended probation,” records indicated.
Hakala got into more trouble on July 1, 2006, after failing to register with police as a sex offender following his move to Bolingbrook.
Records on file in Will County Circuit Court showed Hakala on Dec. 18, 2007 pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to register as a sex offender. He was sentenced that day to two days in Will County Jail, placed on a year of probation and assessed a total of $818 in fines and legal costs, according to records.
Hakala’s criminal record also includes a 2012 conviction for drunken driving in Aurora.
Berlin said Hakala is to be arraigned Nov. 18 in Judge Blanche Hill Fawell’s courtroom.