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updated: 2/8/2011 2:23 PM

Some molestation charges against mentor dismissed

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  • Leonard Puccini

    Leonard Puccini


McHenry County prosecutors Wednesday dropped some but not all of the molestation charges against a former youth mentor due to an expired statute of limitations.

Leonard Puccini, 50, a onetime Big Brothers Big Sisters volunteer, pleaded not guilty to the remaining counts, which include charges he molested a young boy in 2009 and sexually assaulted another two years earlier.

Defense attorney Mark Gummerson said the dismissed charges centered on allegations his client sexually abused three other boys in 1995, 1991 and 1989. He said prosecutors should have known better than to accuse Puccini of crimes alleged to have happened before Illinois' current statute of limitations on sex crimes, which allows cases to be prosecuted up to 20 years after a victim's 18th birthday.

"It's character assassination," Gummerson said. "It seemed to be they were just trying to throw as much stuff against the wall as they could and muddy up his character."

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Combs said he filed a motion Wednesday seeking to introduce the older allegations in the remaining criminal cases.

Combs said it is possible to introduce incidents of "prior misconduct."

"I'm seeking to introduce these (older allegations) as evidence," Combs said Wednesday night.

Puccini, of Bull Valley, was arrested in late June on allegations he molested a 12-year-old Wonder Lake boy he met through Big Brothers Big Sisters last year, though police say he was no longer affiliated with the program at the time the abuse is said to have occurred.

He was arrested again in July after he was accused of molesting three other boys between 1989 and 2008, and then again last month when a fifth accuser came forward with allegations dating back to 1991.

Gummerson said Puccini, who remains free on bond, "will continue to persist in his innocence - because he is innocent."