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Plea deal reached in Naperville middle school assault
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/16/2009 9:38 PM | Updated: 6/16/2009 11:55 PM

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One of two Naperville boys accused of assaulting a classmate in a crime that ignited outrage in Indian Prairie Unit District 204 was sentenced Tuesday to four years' probation.

The 12-year-old boy pleaded guilty to felony aggravated battery in Will County juvenile court.

Prosecutors originally charged him with criminal sexual assault, but in the plea deal, the boy admitted only to having caused "great bodily harm."

Besides probation, the minor must comply with counseling requirements, including being evaluated to see if he is sexually deviant. He also must write an apology letter to his former classmate, pay restitution for his counseling, and is barred from attending the same school or having contact with the boy and his family.

Two defendants were accused Nov. 11 of tying up their 11-year-old Gregory Middle School classmate and sexually assaulting him off campus in one of their homes on Naperville's south side.

The other defendant, 11 at the time of the crime, is due in court Monday. It was in his home that the allegations arose. The boy also is accused of battering the victim in a separate incident on school grounds.

That defendant was allowed to remain at Gregory Middle School through the school year, sparking heated District 204 board meetings, calls for administrator resignations, and proposed changes to state law.

The father of the other defendant, who pleaded guilty Tuesday, voluntarily transferred his son out of District 204 in February to Lincoln Junior High School in Naperville Unit District 203.

The boy's older teen brother died in an accident shortly before the crime. His mother also died suddenly weeks afterward.

Defense attorney Elizabeth Reed said the boy and his father are trying to rebuild their lives.

"We reached a fair outcome for all concerned," Reed said. "Hopefully, everyone can move on with their lives toward positive goals."

Will County Circuit Judge Paula Gomora presided over Tuesday's plea deal. The victim's father could not be reached for comment, but prosecutors said the family was involved in the plea negotiations.

"We consulted extensively with the victim's family in this case to make sure they were on board," said Chuck Pelkie, a Will County state's attorneys office spokesman. "The parents' key concern was to make certain their son never has to attend school with the defendants."

The case sparked a proposed change to state law to allow school officials to forcibly move students accused of crimes to alternative education programs. The legislation has not been signed into law yet.

Meanwhile, Unit District 204 officials earlier this month reached an agreement with the boys' families to ensure they do not attend the same schools.

In the pact, the victim will continue to attend Gregory Middle School for two more years and then Neuqua Valley High School. The other defendant whose criminal case still is pending is transferring to Still Middle School after the summer, for two years, and then will attend Waubonsie Valley High School.