PEKIN — At Tremont High School, David Deakin could be hard or easy to take.
Among the Class of 1981, he’d wear dark, foreboding clothes to strike a pose as an outsider, an image underscored by his occasional bragging about getting high before first period, two classmates say. Still, he was known for his bright mind and funny disposition.
“I was pretty much a straight-laced kid, so I was afraid of him,” a classmate recalls. “But he was always nice. And he was funny.”
David Timothy Deakin, 53, made international headlines Tuesday regarding news of his April 20 arrest in the Philippines for allegedly running a massive child-sexcam operation.
Deakin told investigators he grew up in Peoria “around the corn fields,” according to The Associated Press. But to the Journal Star, two members of Tremont’s Class of 1981 identified him as a classmate (though, noting the seriousness of the allegations, they requested their names not be published in this story).
According to The Associated Press, Deakin’s family was splintered in his teens. Classmates say he arrived in Tremont about eighth grade, living with his father.
David T. Deakin, born May 25, 1963, enrolled in Tremont High School in fall 1977. Jeff Hinman, superintendent of Tremont School District 702, graduated from the school in 1982 but cannot recall Deakin. According to school yearbooks, Deakin played football his freshman and sophomore years, and wrestled his freshman year. Also, during his first three years, he played tuba in the school band.
At first-period band class, Deakin often would brag to a classmate that he was “baked” from smoking pot.
“You knew he was out partying all the time,” the classmate says.
He often wore a dark wardrobe, featuring black jacket and chain wallet.
“He was a burnout/hoodlum,” one classmate says with a chuckle. “No one else in Tremont dressed like that. But he wasn’t a bully in any way.”
Actually, he was often affable. Another classmate recalls Deakin’s wit as “immature” but engaging.
“He was just a goofy guy,” the classmate says.
Deakin also was known as a gearhead who excelled in auto-mechanics class.
“He could rebuild an engine,” the classmate said. “He could do anything mechanics-wise.”
Deakin’s senior portrait is not in the ‘81 yearbook, though he is pictured (along with other tongue-in-cheek senior designees like “biggest flirt”) as “least likely to attend class.” The Associated Press quoted Deakin as saying he dropped out.
“He was the smartest kid,” one classmate says. “But he just didn’t care. He was brilliant, but he didn’t care.”
After high school, he apparently left Tremont, classmates said. Online phone directories list no Deakin in Tremont.
At some point he moved to Pekin, living at multiple addresses, according to court records.
In Tazewell County, Deakin in 1990 pleaded guilty to a Pekin ordinance violation of battery, paying a small fine. In 1992, he pleaded guilty to a felony count of marijuana possession, serving probation and paying a fine. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession; he served probation and paid a fine. Also that year, he pleaded guilty to DUI, paying a fine.
In 1997 in Peoria County (though still listing a Pekin address), he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of marijuana possession; he paid a fine and served probation.
Meantime, Deakin worked a roofing contractor in his 30s, according to The Associated Press. The 1995 Pekin city directory lists a roofer named David T. Deakin living at a house at 1406 Hillview Drive.
During winters, Deakin studied computers, according to The Associated Press. After visiting the Philippines in 1998, he relocated there two years later for a job setting up internet service providers and installing livestreaming production programs.
The two classmates interviewed for this story can’t recall Deakin ever returning to visit Tremont. Neither had heard anything about him in years, until Tuesday’s news.
One classmate says, “I feel sick about it.”