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Article updated: 12/12/2012 9:10 PM

Trial begins for man charged with sexually assaulting teen

By Barbara Vitello

An example of control and cultivation, is how Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Gerber described the case against a Mount Prospect man who authorities say sexually assaulted a 15-year-old boy last year.

Herbert Burgess, 58, "cultivated and groomed this young boy," said Gerber Tuesday during opening statements of Burgess' jury trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

Authorities say Burgess used his position as a human resources manager at the John S. Swift Printing Co. in Buffalo Grove to control the teen, who worked at the company during summer 2011.

"This case is a simple case, as old as time itself," Gerber said.

Insisting the assault never happened, defense attorney Eric Rinehart disagreed.

"This is not a simple case," said Rinehart, who suggested in his opening statement that the complaining witness's father -- who had started a business with Burgess -- made up the allegations in order to profit financially. "It is not a simple case because (the father) did not put together a simple plan."

"Everybody gets emotional when they hear these charges," Rinehart said. "This is a sad case. It's a heartbreaking case about a father who put (his son) up to something awful."

The complaining witness, now 16 and a sophomore at a Chicago high school, testified he had known Burgess -- who was his mother's boss -- for years.

The teen testified he began working at the company in early July 2011 alongside another 15-year-old boy. Burgess checked up on the teens six to seven times a day, the boy said adding that Burgess regularly bought them Gatorade and occasionally lunch, which they ate in Burgess' office.

The teen said Burgess invited him and the other boys to Lifetime Fitness, a nearby health club. On the way, they stopped at Target, where Burgess bought socks and tank tops for the complaining witness and swim trunks for the other boy. After the boys worked out and swam, they had dinner and Burgess drove the other boy home to the South Side of Chicago before driving the complaining witness to his mother's home in Plainfield, he said.

On the way, they stopped at another store, where Burgess bought the boy shirts and body spray and asked if he needed condoms.

"I felt weird," said the boy who told Burgess, if he needs condoms, his father will get them for him.

The boy further testified that after he went to live with his father on Chicago's North Side, Burgess drove him to and from work daily, during which time he placed his hand on the boy's thigh. He also testified that Burgess bought him a PlayStation 3 and six games.

On Monday, Aug. 8, 2011, the teen testified that Burgess was to have a barbecue with the teen and his father after work at his father's house. They had planned to stop at Sam's Club for supplies when Burgess took a detour to his Mount Prospect apartment, the teen said. Once inside, Burgess assaulted him, said the visibly upset teen who testified haltingly about the details of the assault, which he said included Burgess forcing him onto the bed.

"I was crying," said the boy who testified he tried to get up but couldn't. "I was telling him to stop."

Afterward, he said he felt "like I'm not normal anymore."

Later, Burgess threatened him verbally and via text message saying if the boy told anyone, "my mom will lose her job, and I'll be out on the street."

Rinehart denied that his client assaulted the boy or sent the test message.

Testimony continues today in Rolling Meadows.

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