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Article posted: 5/18/2010 12:01 AM

Ex-Round Lake Beach cop gets jail for sex with 16-year-old

By Tony Gordon

A former Round Lake Beach police officer was sentenced to jail and probation Monday for sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl.

Leroy Kuffel, 52, was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse after a three-day trial in January for having sex with his son's former girlfriend.

Associate Judge Daniel Shanes ordered Kuffel to serve 60 days in jail, followed by 30 months of additional confinement when he will be released from jail only for work and to attend sex offender treatment.

Kuffel will also be on probation for three years, Shanes said, and he must successfully complete any treatment programs recommended by his probation officer.

The girl, who is now 17 years old, testified she became close to Kuffel as she was in the process of breaking up with his son. She said Kuffel brought her a pair of gym shoes, paid her cell phone bill and took her to dinner often.

They had sex twice in February 2009 and once in March, she said, all three times at Kuffel's house near Lake Villa.

Assistant State's Attorney Victor O'Block recommended Kuffel be sentenced to prison for up to seven years. By continuing to deny he ever had any sexual contact with the girl, Kuffel was refusing to take responsibility for what he had done, O'Block said.

But Waukegan defense attorney Charles Smith argued his client should not be penalized for maintaining his innocence.

"I don't see how the criminal justice system can punish a man just because he says 'I didn't do it,'" Smith said. "We can go through all the psychological mumbo-jumbo about denial, but maybe it is true."

In his own statement to the court, Kuffel asked for probation without any jail or prison time, and apologized for making what he called "bad decisions."

Shanes said he was taking into consideration Kuffel's 29 years of service as a police officer, a job he retired from shortly after his arrest.

But he also said the jail time was necessary because Kuffel had volunteered to be a role model for the community and had let down that community.

"And just so it is clear, the defendant is not being punished because he says he didn't do it," Shanes said. "The defendant is being punished because the jury said he did."

Smith said he intends to appeal Kuffel's conviction and sentence.

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