The teenage girl who former Round Lake Beach police officer Leroy Kuffel is accused of having sex with testified Wednesday she lied about their relationship when first questioned.
Kuffel, 52, is on trial for aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Lake County Circuit Court and faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.
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The girl, now 17 years old, testified she and Kuffel had sex three times in February and March, 2009 as she was ending a dating relationship with Kuffel's son.
But when Lake County sheriff's detectives interviewed her after receiving an anonymous tip about the relationship, she denied having sex with Kuffel.
Responding to questions from Assistant State's Attorney Victor O'Block, the girl said she did so in an effort to protect Kuffel.
"I love and care about this person," she said softly in the courtroom of Associate Judge Daniel Shanes. "I don't want to see him go to jail."
She testified she first met Kuffel in fall 2008 when she was dating Kuffel's 21-year-old son. As that relationship deteriorated, she said, she became closer to Kuffel and they began going to dinner together and calling each other frequently.
She testified they had sex together Feb. 1, Feb. 14 and sometime during the second week in March, all three times at Kuffel's house near Lake Villa.
She said she eventually changed her story and told police about the sex after Kuffel's son told her "to do what was right for me."
She testified she called Kuffel several times after first being interviewed by police, and that he coached her on what to say to the detectives.
Kuffel also told her to call a friend of his and tell that man the two had never had sex together, she said.
Detective Karen Kates testified Kuffel willingly answered questions about his relationship with the girl when she went to interview him on April 1.
Kates said Kuffel admitted he bought the girl a pair of gym shoes, took her to dinner once and had paid her cell phone bill in the past, but denied any physical relationship.
Kates said she obtained phone records for Kuffel and the girl and found she had called him 184 times between March 18 and April 2, and that he had called her 107 times in that period.
Between April 1 and April 17, Kates said, there were 279 calls from the girl to Kuffel and he called her 111 times.
Kuffel's defense attorney, Charles Smith of Waukegan, contends the girl is lying about her relationship with Kuffel in order to build the foundation for a lawsuit against Kuffel and the police department.
Kuffel, who was charged April 20 and placed on administrative leave from the police department, resigned in August after a 28-year career.