Wauconda firefighter pleads not guilty in sex abuse case
A veteran Wauconda firefighter pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges he had inappropriate sexual contact for nearly four years with someone under the age of 13.
Donald Berthiaume, 41, of the 2500 block of Fish Hook Way, was stoic when Lake County Judge George Bridges explained he could spend up to 14 years in prison if he is found guilty on any of the 12 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse filed against him.
If found guilty of the charges, he could also be fined $25,000, spend two years on probation, and be forced to register as a sex offender for life, Bridges said in court.
Berthiaume and defense attorney Robert Gevirtz refused to comment as they left the courtroom Wednesday.
Berthiaume was initially charged in early November with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for having inappropriate sexual contact in 2005 with someone who was under the age of 13, Lake County Sheriff's officials said.
However, the grand jury returned indictments that charged the firefighter with 12 counts after prosecutors accused Berthiaume of having sexual contact with the minor from Aug. 1, 2004 through June 30, 2008, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Mary Kay Foy said.
Berthiaume remains free after posting the required 10 percent of his $50,000 bond.
He has been placed on paid administrative leave from the Wauconda Fire Protection District pending the outcome of the charges against him, fire officials said.
He is due back in court Feb. 4, with a trial date set for April 1.
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