Jury finds man guilty of sexual abuse in less than 20 minutes

September 10

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a jury deliberated for 20 minutes on Thursday before finding a Joliet man guilty of sexually abusing a teen-age girl in 2007 and 2008.

Leon Franklin, 37, was found guilty of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The charges allege he sexually abused the girl, who was 16-years-old at the time, on two occasions, once in December of 2007 and once in February of 2008.

The victim was in the care of an adult family friend when the sexual abuse occurred. Franklin also was living at the residence at the time.

The family friend arrived home to find Franklin partially undressed just after one of the incidents occurred, and she reported it to police. During an interview by a specialist at the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, the victim reported the other occasion during which she was sexually abused. 

Assistant State’s Attorneys Chris Messina and Derek Ewanic prosecuted the case.

“The fact that the jury came back in 20 minutes with a guilty verdict is a testament to the effectiveness of the statements obtained by the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “Thanks to these two skilled prosecutors, we will be asking for a lengthy prison term for a dangerous predator who will forever be flagged as a registered sex offender.”

Franklin is scheduled to be sentenced by Associate Judge Robert Livas on Dec. 1. He faces up to 14 years in prison.

Assistance sought in locating Booker T. Terry; $2 million bail set for charge of aggravated battery of a child

August 24

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow joined Beecher Police Chief Jeffrey Weissgerber in seeking the public’s assistance in locating Booker T. Terry, who has been charged with aggravated battery of a child.

Terry, 40, of 1174 Cherry Lane, Beecher, was charged on Aug. 18, 2009, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Bail for Terry was set by a judge at $2 million.

The charge alleges that Terry, on or about Aug. 14, 2009, caused great bodily harm to a child by striking the minor about the head and body. The charge is a Class X felony that carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison upon conviction.

The child, a 9-year-old girl, suffered critical head injuries. She was transported to the hospital after an ambulance was called to her house in Beecher on Aug. 14. The girl remains at Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn.

Beecher Police received critical assistance in the investigation of this case by the Will/Grundy Major Crimes Task Force under the direction of Task Force Commander William Carlisle.

Beecher Police also have sought assistance in locating Terry from the Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Police believe Terry is still in the area and may be on Chicago’s South Side. Anyone with information regarding Terry’s whereabouts is asked to call the Beecher Police Department at (708) 946-2341.

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office reminds the public that charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

State’s Attorney, Probation Department offer educational materials, presentations warning teens, parents, teachers to dangers of ‘sexting’

August 17

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and the Will County Juvenile Probation Department have launched an initiative to warn parents, teachers and teen-agers about the dangers associated with “sexting.”

Sexting describes when teen-agers send sexually explicit pictures of themselves via their cell phones to friends and other people. It is a growing trend that can have disastrous long-term consequences for young people who engage in this dangerous practice.

The educational initiative has two components:

  • The Juvenile Probation Department recently sent letters to all Will County schools informing them that representatives from both the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and the Juvenile Probation Department are available to give informational presentations to educators and parents about the dangers of sexting.
  • In addition, State’s Attorney Glasgow has created two instructive fliers that inform both parents and teen-agers about the harmful social and legal consequences that can result from sexting. (Both fliers available below)

“We want to encourage parents to have frank conversations with their teen-agers about the hazards of sexting,” Glasgow said. “Young people don’t realize the long-term damage that sexting can cause to their reputations, not to mention the potential criminal consequences that could burden them for the rest of their lives.”

According to a survey conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unwanted Pregnancy, one in five teen-agers has admitted to sexting. Even though teens may perceive it as harmless fun, sexting can be devastating to a child’s reputation. Compromising photographs can easily be posted on the Internet for anyone – including adult sexual predators – to access and distribute.

The criminal consequences can be equally devastating. Anyone who takes a photograph of a child in a nude or provocative pose is technically creating child pornography. Anyone who sends such explicit material electronically – including the teen who created it, or a trusted friend who forwards it to others – is disseminating child pornography. 

These are potential felony crimes. Prosecutors and police across the nation are struggling to find appropriate ways to address this growing problem in the legal arena. However, it is important to note that teens in other jurisdictions have been charged with felonies.

In Will County, juveniles who are caught sexting may be placed on one year of informal supervision to keep them out of the criminal justice system while holding them accountable for their actions. If a sexting case were to be charged as a crime, it is possible a teen who is convicted could be ordered by a judge to register as a sex offender for life.

“After a conviction for most sex offenses, the courts have no discretion but to require registration as a sex offender in every location where the offender resides,” said Chief Judge Gerald Kinney. “Failure to timely register leads to new charges against the offender and more involvement with the criminal justice system. It is important that young people understand that these are significant lifelong consequences that could arise from their actions.”

Glasgow warned: “A sex offender registration requirement will follow someone forever and will affect his or her ability to get into college or obtain certain jobs. We must encourage our teens to think before they act so that they don’t jeopardize their reputations and their futures.”

The state’s attorney’s informational fliers will be available on the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office Web site at www.willcountysao.com in the near future. Copies also are available at no charge by calling the Will County State’s Attorney’s Director of Crime Prevention, at (815) 727-8742.

Joliet man convicted of sexually abusing two little girls

August 17

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced today that a 70-year-old man was convicted of sexually abusing two little girls for whom he was baby-sitting.

Glenn Lawlor, of Joliet, faces up to 37 years in prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 28 by Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes.

At the conclusion of a bench trial on Monday, Judge Policandriotes found Lawlor guilty of one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Lawlor abused the children on multiple occasions between February 2006 and March 2008 while he watched them for their mother. The children were ages 6 and 8 when the abuse began.

Both victims testified during the bench trial. The defendant also testified, telling the judge the children overpowered his ability to control himself.

Assistant State’s Attorneys Matt Guzman and Adam McAuley also presented at trial physical evidence from a doctor who examined one of the girls and determined she had been sexually abused.

“The testimony from these two courageous little girls has enabled us to take this vile predator off of our streets,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “Glenn Lawlor justly will spend many, if not all, of the remaining years of his life behind prison bars.”

Bolingbrook man gets 15 years for sexually abusing child

August 17

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Bolingbrook man has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for molesting a child who was visiting his home in December 2007.

A jury in April found Sylwester Gawlak, 42, of 9 Hidden Valley Court, guilty of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the sentence on Monday.

Gawlak sexually abused the girl, who was under 13, on Dec. 7, 2007 in his home. Prosecutors James Long and Dant Foulk entered into evidence a letter from the Will County Jail in which Gawlak expressed embarrassment over the allegations and urged a family member to send the victim out of the country to avoid testifying against him.

The defendant also acknowledged to Bolingbrook investigators who interviewed him that he had hugged and kissed the young victim while he was naked

Bolingbrook man convicted of brutal 2008 rape; faces up to 60 years in prison

August 7

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a 35-year-old Bolingbrook man has been convicted of the brutal sexual assault of a woman in 2008.

A jury returned with a guilty verdict late Thursday night against Fermilo Morris, who faces up to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 15. He was convicted of one count each of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

Morris was living in the basement of the Bolingbrook house that the victim shared with her boyfriend. The victim’s boyfriend had invited Morris to live there temporarily.

On Aug. 30, 2008, while the victim’s boyfriend was spending the night away with his children from a previous relationship, Morris returned home after an evening of drinking beer and cognac. He went to the victim’s bedroom, struck her in the face and sexually assaulted her for the next four hours. Throughout the ordeal, he also continued to drink and smoke crack cocaine.

The frightened victim fled the house when Morris left her alone to go to the bathroom. She pounded on a neighbor’s door, and the neighbor called 911 from that house.

“This cowardly sexual predator committed a crime of iniquitous brutality against a woman who had an absolute right to be safe inside her own home,” State’s Attorney Glasgow said. “Her brave testimony at trial has enabled us to remove this diabolical thug from our community for a long, long time.”

Assistant State’s Attorneys Matt Guzman and Chris Messina also entered into evidence at trial a tape of the frantic 911 call made by the victim’s neighbor as well as critical DNA evidence that proved the defendant’s guilt. DNA tests showed that the victim bled on Morris’ shirt after he struck her in the face. 

“The Bolingbrook Police Department went the extra mile in this investigation, giving my two excellent prosecutors the tools necessary to convict this vile reprobate,” Glasgow said.

Will County Drug Court to graduate seven people who kicked their addictions; ceremony Aug. 20

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that seven people who faced criminal charges stemming from their drug abuse have kicked their addictions and will graduate from the Will County Drug Court Program.

A graduation ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Will County Office Building, 302 N. Chicago St. The public is invited to attend.

The Will County Drug Court Program helps drug abusers who have committed non-violent offenses break their addictions. The graduation ceremony is the final step in an intensive year-long process. Defendants allowed into the program are carefully screened and must remain drug free, submit to random drug tests, find employment, follow through with treatment and attend weekly drug court sessions if they are to graduate.

At the Aug. 20 ceremony, graduates from Carol Stream, Crest Hill, Joliet, Lockport, Oak Forest, Plainfield and Waukegan will join more than 200 others who have graduated from Drug Court since the program’s inception in 2000.

Circuit Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, who presides over Drug Court, will introduce graduates individually and discuss how the program helped them clean up their lives. Will County Drug Court boasts a remarkable success rate. Ninety-two percent of those who have graduated from the local drug court have gone on to lead productive, drug-free lives. 

“With the treatment and counseling services that Drug Court provides, non-violent offenders can kick the addictions that drove them to commit their crimes in the first place,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow, who spearheaded the program more than a decade ago. “By breaking the addictions that drove their criminal behavior, we are helping participants rejoin the community as productive citizens who hold jobs, further their educations, own homes, raise families and pay taxes.”

In 1997, Glasgow wrote a $30,000 planning grant application that was awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Two years later, the Department of Justice awarded a $500,000 start-up grant for the program that was supplemented by a $50,000 state grant.

In drug court, prosecutors and defense attorneys work with the judge and treatment providers to help abusers kick their addictions. The program is a cost-effective alternative to dumping non-violent drug offenders into state prisons, where they cycle in and out of the system.

For more information on Drug Court, go to https://willcountysao.com and click on Crime Prevention.

Seminar for police, social service providers to address Cyber Stalking, Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

August 4

JOLIET – Law enforcement professionals and social service providers are encouraged to attend a free training seminar scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Aug. 25 at Billie Limacher Bicentennial Park, 201 N. Bluff St., in Joliet.

This year’s seminar focuses on cyber stalking and the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The two keynote presenters will be law enforcement investigator and instructor Hale Guyer and Rachel Durchslag, executive director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation.

The seminar is co-sponsored by the 12th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council, the Office of Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow, Social Work PRN and Tri-River Police Training Association.

Guyer, a retired law enforcement officer with more than 32 years experience, is an expert in the investigation of high-tech crimes. He will discuss recent changes to the Illinois Cyber Stalking Law; how suspects use technology to harass and stalk victims; caller ID; text messaging; and e-mail spoofing techniques. He also will demonstrate spy cameras and other electronic devices. Guyer has provided training at conferences for law enforcement and the general public throughout the United States and in England.

Durchslag founded the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation in 2006. The Alliance works to eliminate sexual exploitation through litigation and advocacy, organizing and policy reform as well as prevention and resource development.

Durchslag will discuss children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, the physical and psychological issues they face and the role that “demand” plays in the recruitment of exploited youth. She also will discuss intervention recommendations.

“We are fortunate to have two highly acclaimed speakers for this year’s seminar,” said Tony Ray, coordinator for the Family Violence Coordinating Council, which is under the direction of the 12th Judicial Circuit and Chief Judge Gerald Kinney. “We hope law enforcement officers and social service providers will take advantage of this free training.”

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said: “Both of the topics covered in this year’s seminar present constantly evolving challenges to investigators, prosecutors, advocates and social service providers. Attendees at this seminar will receive valuable information on how to protect women and children who are the targets of exploitation.”

To register, law enforcement officers can call (815) 439-6915. Social service providers can contact jessica@socialworkprn.com. The training seminar provides five free continuing education credits for social workers.

A continental breakfast will be provided by Tri-River Police Training Association. Lunch will not be provided.

Joliet man gets life in prison for sexually assaulting two little girls

July 28

Joliet man gets life in prison for sexually assaulting two little girlsJOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that a Joliet man convicted of sexually assaulting two little girls was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday (July 28, 2009).

Gregory Simpson, 51, was found guilty on Dec. 11 of two Class X counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. Simpson sexually assaulted the two girls while they were staying at his home.

The sexual assaults occurred while the girls were at Simpson’s home sometime between 2004 and 2006. The girls, who are sisters, were in kindergarten and third grade at the time.

State law mandates a sentence of natural life in prison if a defendant is convicted of more than one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child involving two or more victims. Associate Judge Robert Livas handed down the sentence.

An educational program adopted by the Laraway School District was instrumental in uncovering the allegations of child sexual assault that enabled prosecutors to convict Simpson.

One of the girls first reported the allegations to adult family members who failed to take action. However, a DVD program implemented by the district brought this case to the attention of authorities in May. The program is called, “Think Before You Click: Playing It Safe Online,” and it focuses on Internet safety, including a segment dealing with on-line predators. It was first presented to students in fourth grade on up in May 2008.

After viewing the DVD, one of the victims confided to her friend about what Simpson had done. The friend told her teacher of the conversation. The teacher informed school administrators, who reported the allegations to the Joliet Police Department for investigation.

“The district’s proactive program brought these allegations to light and helped police and my prosecutors arrest and convict a sexual predator,” Glasgow said. “One of the victims also wisely chose a good friend who bravely reported these allegations to her teacher.”

After the allegations were reported, the two sisters gave videotaped statements to a trained forensic interviewer at the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center. Those statements, which were played during Simpson’s trial, were critical pieces of evidence that enabled jurors to reach a guilty verdict.

In addition, Assistant State’s Attorneys Alyson DeBell and Anna Rossi as well as Victim Witness Advocate Kelly Sullivan worked closely with the little girls to ease their fears about testifying at trial.

Dine at Heroes West on Aug. 10 and benefit the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center

July 24

JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced that anyone who dines at Heroes West Sports Grill on Monday Aug. 10 can help out the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.

Heroes West is hosting a Heroes Helps event on that day, during which 10 percent of the sales generated by participating diners will be donated to the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.

Heroes Helps is open to the entire community, and diners only need to inform their server that they wish for their meal to benefit the Children’s Advocacy Center. 

Participants may either dine in or carry out for their order to qualify. In addition, all participating guests will be entered in a drawing, and one lucky winner will receive a $100 Heroes West gift card.

Heroes West Sports Grill is open from 11 a.m. to midnight and is located at 1530 Commerce Drive in Joliet at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Houbolt Road.

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center provides a safe haven where children who have suffered sexual abuse or severe physical abuse can tell their stories to trained professionals in a non-threatening, non-suggestive environment. Their videotaped statements have been used in the prosecution of hundreds of sexual predators over the past 14 years.

“The not-for-profit Will County Children’s Advocacy Center depends on fund raisers like Heroes Helps to enable its dedicated staff to continue its critical mission of keeping our children safe,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow, who founded the Center in 1995. “Thanks to Heroes West owner Joe Pecora for his generous assistance. And I want to invite everyone to come out for a great meal at his legendary local restaurant.”

Other worthy organizations have been the beneficiary of the Heroes Helps promotion. At the end of the year, the organization that raises the most money also will receive a $1,000 donation.

The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center is a 501-c-3 non-profit organization. The center relies on grants, local funding, foundations and fund raisers to operate and fulfill its critical mission of protecting children. The center also is a member of United Way of Will County and United Way of Grundy County.

For more information about the Heroes Helps event, contact Denise Payton at (815) 774-4564.