A sex offender whose DNA linked him to an unsolved 1996 sexual assault in Bensenville was found guilty Friday by a DuPage County judge.
Kurt J. Serzen, 53, was convicted of sneaking into the victim's first-floor apartment through a broken sliding glass door. He then threatened her with a knife, held a pillow over her head and assaulted her with a sex toy.
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The early morning attack on Aug. 7, 1996, remained unsolved for about eight years -- until authorities in 2003 matched saliva taken from the victim's body to a DNA profile Serzen was required to give after his conviction in an unrelated sex case.
"This case is a testament to the patient resolve of (the victim) and the advancement of DNA technology," Assistant State's Attorney Alex McGimpsey said.
Serzen was previously convicted of molesting a 16-year-old girl in Woodridge in 1999. As a result, his DNA was entered into a database of felony offenders.
After the DuPage County crime lab matched the DNA to the earlier case, police searched Serzen's former Hanover Park home, seizing numerous sex toys, hotel receipts, and notebooks filled with women's names and phone numbers.
At trial, Serzen argued his saliva was on the chest of the victim -- once a dancer for a Northlake strip club -- because he worked at the same club as a bouncer and often expectorated while yelling over loud music.
But the club's former security chief testified he didn't recall Serzen, who assaulted the dancer, then 23, weeks after she left the temporary job.
Judge Robert Kleeman, who heard Serzen testify Thursday, said the defense "could be the most ridiculous explanation I've heard."
"I struggle to find the words to describe how much I don't believe that explanation," Kleeman said, adding that he believed the defendant lied from the witness stand about other aspects of the case, too. "His testimony -- from the time he told me his name -- rapidly went to the cellar."
Serzen could be sentenced to up to 60 years in prison after his conviction on multiple counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
Outside of court, the victim expressed relief that her attacker is likely to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
"I'm just glad that it's finally over," she said. "I didn't want him to hurt anybody else. I felt it was my duty (to come forward and pursue charges) as a woman and a citizen."
Court records show Serzen has lived in Addison, Elgin and Hanover Park. In the early 1990s, he was acquitted of at least three sexual assaults in Hillsborough County, Fla., where he was a night security guard at a hospital.
In 2008, he was sentenced to a five-year prison term for failing to update his address on the sex offender registry. His next court date is May 13.