After deliberating more than eight hours over two days, a Cook County jury Tuesday convicted Herbert Burgess of sexually assaulting a teenage boy at Burgess’ Mount Prospect home.
The 16-year-old victim and his father hugged after the verdict was read. Later, the tearful dad said he was grateful Burgess “can’t steal any more little boys’ souls.”
After five days of testimony, the jury of nine women and three men found 58-year-old Herbert Burgess guilty of criminal sexual assault, unlawful restraint and aggravated criminal sexual assault. The latter is a non-probationable, class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison. He will be sentenced at a later date.
At the time of two separate assaults in August 2011, the teen — whose name the Daily Herald is withholding to protect his privacy — was working a summer job at a Buffalo Grove printing company that also employed his mother and Burgess, who served as the human resources manager.
Prosecutors said Burgess exerted power and control over the then-15-year-old. They say Burgess ingratiated himself by buying the teen gifts, including a PlayStation 3, and treating him to lunches and dinners. He also drove the teen to and from his father’s Chicago home to Buffalo Grove.
The first assault occurred at Burgess’ apartment on Aug. 8, 2011. The teen testified that after they arrived to pick up some items for a barbecue planned at the boy’s home that evening, Burgess slammed the door and pushed the teen over a couch. Burgess then ordered the victim into the bedroom and assaulted him, the teen testified.
“I felt hurt. It’s like I’m not normal anymore,” said the high school sophomore who testified that Burgess assaulted him again four days later at the printing company. Burgess faces charges in Lake County as well.
Burgess, who took the witness stand to deny the allegations, showed no emotion at the verdict. His attorney Eric Rinehart declined to comment.
Rinehart had claimed that the boy’s father — with whom Burgess was working to establish a sewer and drainage business — lied and planted evidence damaging to Burgess to profit from a financial settlement the father made with the company following Burgess’ arrest. In a vigorous defense, Rinehart also questioned the credibility of prosecution witness William Abruscato, Burgess’ Lake County jail cellmate, who testified that Burgess told him about the attacks. Rinehart claimed Abruscato made a deal with prosecutors to testify against Burgess in exchange for probation for a domestic battery charge.
Lake County authorities denied Abruscato received any special consideration for his information when he pleaded guilty in December 2011, a year before Burgess’ trial.
The teen’s mother said the attacks against her son by a co-worker she had known for 12 years caught her off guard.
“You realize you don’t really know everyone in your life,” said the mother, who praised Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys Mike Gerber and Kristin Piper for their hard work.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.