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Article updated: 12/12/2012 7:31 PM

Tense exchange delays Mt. Prospect sex assault trial

By Jamie Sotonoff

A rare, mid-trial motion for a new judge delayed the start of the second day of the sexual assault trial of Mount Prospect resident Herbert Burgess.

The motion for "SOJ," or substitute of judge, was made by Burgess's attorney, Eric Rinehart, Wednesday morning before the jury entered the courtroom.

The tense exchange started when Rinehart filed a motion for a mistrial, saying "irreparable damage" was done by the limits placed on what he could say in front of the jury Tuesday, when the 15-year-old victim testified.

Cook County Judge Ellen Beth Mandeltort denied the mistrial motion, and in doing so, launched into a lengthy, raised-voice critique of Rinehart's handling of the case and left the courtroom.

When Mandeltort returned a few minutes later, she asked the attorneys if they were ready to continue. Rinehart said he was not. He made motions for a substitute judge and another mistrial, which he hastily scribbled on a legal pad. Rinehart claims Mandeltort made prejudicial statements about both him and Burgess during her remarks.

Both motions were later denied by the presiding judge in the building, Kay Hanlon, and Burgess's jury trial resumed Wednesday afternoon, with Mandeltort presiding.

The prosecutors and Rinehart both declined to comment on the situation.

When the trial resumed, the prosecution brought in three Mount Prospect police officers and two forensic scientists from the Illinois State Police to testify about evidence collected from the homes of Burgess and the victim. One item was a semen-stained T-shirt found in the victim's closet in Chicago, which contained DNA that matched Burgess, one of the forensic scientists testified.

Burgess, 58, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and unlawful restraint of the teen in his apartment on South Lexington Drive in August 2011.

Prosecutors say Burgess was a family friend of the victim's and groomed the teen with gifts before assaulting him. The defense counters that the victim made up the story under pressure from his father to get a financial settlement.

Testimony is expected to continue Thursday, and the defense is expected to begin presenting its case.

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