Michael Rebecca was sentenced to serve what amounts to the rest of his life in prison Friday for molesting a young boy over a number of years.
Lake County Associate Judge Theodore Potkonjak ordered Rebecca, 52, to serve 60 years behind bars for his convictions for criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
And the now 19-year-old boy who testified against the former Vernon Hills man during a two-day trial in September is only the first of nine such youths Rebecca is charged with molesting.
Assistant State's Attorney Bolling Haxall said Rebecca knew the parents of most of the boys who would visit him at his apartment in the 700 block of Court of Birch between 2003 and 2007.
The victims, who were all between 11 and 17 when Rebecca is accused of molesting them, were bribed with electronics and other gifts to keep them quiet, Haxall said.
Even as Rebecca was preying on their children, Haxall said, he continued a normal relationship with their parents.
"He would molest their children, then go to dinner with them," Haxall said. "This case is about the trust those people had in him and how he abused that trust at every turn."
The victim in the first case Rebecca stood trial for, told Potkonjak he is haunted by the fact that he introduced several of his friends to Rebecca and they also became his victims.
"On one level, I know that Mike is responsible for what he did," the boy told Potkonjak. "But I still feel guilty for bringing my friends over there."
Defense attorney James Schwarzbach asked Potkonjak to consider that Rebecca had been a lifetime good citizen before these acts took place and was under tremendous psychological pressure following the deaths of his girlfriend and brother.
He asked for a sentence closer to the minimum of 40 years in prison.
Rebecca did not make a statement to the court on Schwarzbach's advice because of the eight cases still pending against him.
Potkonjak said he was offended that Rebecca told a probation officer preparing a report for the sentencing hearing it was the children who were at fault.
According to the report, Rebecca told the officer that the children initiated the sex acts and he was powerless to resist them because he was sleep-deprived.
"The only thing this court can do is to make sure Mr. Rebecca is locked up for so long that he will never get out," he said. "That is the only way to make sure he will never do this to anyone else."
Potkonjak ordered the parties to return to court Nov. 23 to schedule dates for the second case against Rebecca.