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Teen sentenced to eight years for abusing 6-year-old
By Barbara Vitello | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 1/13/2009 12:02 AM

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A child traumatized.

A teenager in prison.

A family devastated.

The case of the 15-year-old Elgin resident charged with the aggravated criminal sexual assault of a 6-year-old saddened everyone, including defense attorney Joel DeGrazia, who admitted that after 30 years practicing law, cases like this still disturb him.

The defendant's mother wiped away tears Monday afternoon upon learning that her child would spend the rest of his teens and early twenties in prison for the crime that took place at the defendant's home between May and June, 2008.

In exchange for pleading guilty to one count of aggravated criminal sexual assault, Cook County Judge Thomas Fecarotta sentenced the high school sophomore to eight years in prison followed by three years of mandatory supervised release. The defendant had no criminal background.

The Class X felony carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison. Illinois law mandates that juveniles accused of committing Class X felonies be charged as adults.

"It's not an act of sex," said DeGrazia. "It's an act of violence."

Referring to statistics indicating that some victims of abuse may go on to abuse others, DeGrazia speculated that his client was "probably victimized as a young boy."

Fecarotta ordered the defendant incarcerated in a juvenile corrections facility. It was not clear Monday if the defendant will serve the sentence in a juvenile or adult facility, or in a combination thereof, but DeGrazia said he understood his client would serve the sentence in a juvenile facility until the age of 21.