JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a jury Monday afternoon found a Downers Grove man guilty of soliciting a 14-year-old Naperville girl he met in an Internet chat room for sex.
Juan Martinez Jr., 25, of the 1100 block of Candlewood Drive, Downers Grove, was convicted on one count of indecent solicitation of a child, a Class 3 felony that carries a possible prison sentence of 2-5 years and requires him to register as a sex offender.
The two began trading text messages over their cellular telephones in early May.
On the night of May 9, 2004, one week after they began communicating via text messages, Martinez arranged to meet the girl in front of her Naperville house, according to trial testimony. While her mother was sleeping, the girl slipped out of the house and met Martinez at his car.
Martinez testified that he drove the victim to an industrial park where they had sex in the back seat of his car.
The girl’s mother learned that Martinez, who was 23 at the time, had had sex with her teen-age daughter when she discovered their text messages. Naperville Detective Richard Wistocki investigated the allegations after the victim’s mother contacted police.
Defense attorneys conceded Martinez had sex with the victim. However, they alleged during the trial that the victim had lied about her age and told their client she was 17.
However, the girl testified she never told Martinez she was 17. She testified that she at first told Martinez she was 15, which still is under the age of consent, although there are no text messages to document her testimony. The girl testified that she finally told Martinez she was 14 after their sexual encounter.
The jury acquitted Martinez on two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Those two charges contained allegations that Martinez knowingly had sex with a minor under the age of 17.
Assistant State’s Attorneys John Connor and Alyson DeBell entered into evidence a taped conversation between Martinez and the victim in which they discussed her age after the sexual encounter. In that conversation, which police recorded as part of their investigation, Martinez urged the girl to lie to detectives about their rendezvous.
The prosecutors also entered into evidence a text message Martinez sent to the girl after their sexual encounter and after other text messages had documented the victim telling him she was only 14. Martinez suggested graphically in the latter text message that they could continue having sex in the future. It was this text message that secured a conviction on the solicitation count.
“Juan Martinez Jr. met a vulnerable, adolescent girl on the Internet and then had sex with her in a dark and desolate industrial park,” Glasgow said. “After this encounter, he suggested to the girl in a text message that they continue this sexual relationship even after it was clear to him that she was only 14. But the intervention of the girl’s mother and Naperville police prevented another meeting from occurring.”
Glasgow praised Connor and DeBell for presenting evidence clearly and securing a conviction. Connor is an Internet crimes expert who helped establish the state’s attorney’s Computer Crimes Unit.
“These two prosecutors did an excellent job of piecing together testimony, taped conversations and reams of text messages to convince jurors of the defendant’s guilt on the solicitation charge,” the state’s attorney said.
Glasgow also credited Detective Wistocki for conducting an aggressive investigation that brought Martinez to justice.
“Naperville Police Chief David Dial has given investigators like Detective Wistocki the support and tools they need to track down Internet predators,” Glasgow said. “As a result, Wistocki has become recognized nationally as a top computer crimes investigator whose recommendations for making the Internet safer for children are sought after by companies that include MySpace.com.”
Martinez is scheduled to be sentenced by Associate Judge Robert Livas on Oct. 20