Jury convicts Vernon Hills man in child molesting case

  •  Michael Rebecca

    Michael Rebecca

Published: 1/26/2010 6:57 PM | Updated: 1/26/2010 6:57 PM

A Lake County jury deliberated a little less than one hour Tuesday before convicting Michael Rebecca of Vernon Hills of molesting a young boy repeatedly over several years.

Rebecca, who is accused of molesting nine boys between 2003 and 2007, has already been convicted in one case and has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

After a daylong trial Tuesday, he was convicted of a total of 28 counts of predatory sexual assault of a child, criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

He will face an additional 100 to 120 years behind bars when he returns to court March 12 for sentencing.

Rebecca, 52, was arrested in November 2007 after one of his victims went to police and led them to the others.

He was accused of running a "sex club" with the boys, whose parents would leave them with Rebecca on weekends and during school vacations, and he would give the boys presents and money in exchange for sex.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Scheller said the victim in this case was molested repeatedly between the ages of 11 and 16.

Rebecca was a trusted friend of the boy's mother, Scheller said, who never suspected anything was wrong until police arrived to interview her son.

In part of his six-hour videotaped confession to police, Rebecca described his relationship with the Twin Lakes, Wis., boy.

"I was like a surrogate father to him," Rebecca said on the tape. "(The boy) was like my nephew."

Defense attorney James Schwarzbach said Rebecca did engage in the sex with the boy, but should not be convicted because he was not in a position of trust and authority over them at the time the acts occurred.

He conceded his client was going to have problems with the jury of nine men and three women.

"You are not going to like this evidence," Schwarzbach said. "You are not going to like Michael Rebecca."

The victim, who is now 19 years old, was in the courtroom with his family when the verdict was announced but declined to comment afterward.

Jury selection begins Wednesday morning for Rebecca's third trial on the charges.