A former Elgin preacher was sentenced to one year of court supervision Wednesday for repeatedly spanking a 12-year-old girl as part of religious counseling sessions prompted by her claims she was molested by her stepfather.
The Rev. Daryl P. Bujak, 33, also must perform 80 hours of community service, pay court costs and a fine of $350, and have no contact with the girl, now 16, or any similar contact with other children.
Kane County Judge Allen M. Anderson found Bujak guilty of misdemeanor battery but not guilty of failure to report a sexual abuse allegation the Richmond girl made in March 2005, when the spankings began.
Bujak pleaded for the judge's mercy, saying there were "many things I would have done differently" when the girl's family sought him out for Christian counseling.
"I do acknowledge the situation was over my head," Bujak said.
The girl's mother testified that Bujak and her husband arranged the weekly "counseling sessions" after her daughter suggested she was sexually abused by her stepfather.
Her stepfather, a 36-year-old Richmond man, eventually was charged in McHenry County with five counts of predatory criminal sexual assault.
The mother said the girl had a history of lying and acting out at home, so no one believed her. She said she knew physical discipline or "corporal punishment" might be used on the girl during the sessions, which lasted about two months and were intended to correct her behavior.
In finding Bujak guilty of battery, Anderson said the spankings were "unreasonable" and the preacher was not protected by corporal punishment consent laws generally tailored to school settings.
But Anderson said the initial suggestion of sexual abuse "did not rise to the level" required by mandatory reporting laws.
"There has to be enough information something untowards was going on," Anderson said.
In delivering the sentence, Anderson noted Bujak's lack of a criminal record and said he was unlikely to commit a similar crime again.
Bujak declined to say outside of court whether he is still working as a preacher. He left First Missionary Baptist Church in Elgin after he was charged in the summer of 2006, but church treasurer Robert Steele said Wednesday the resignation had "absolutely nothing to do with this case."
"He felt the Lord was just through with him here," Steele said.