A Cook County judge found an Elgin man guilty on charges that he sexually abused a girl over about 2½ years beginning when she was 12 years old.
"There is no victory won in this courtroom today, only loss," said Judge Joel Greenblatt, announcing his finding Friday to a near-capacity courtroom. "The greatest loss was suffered by (the victim). She lost her childhood. She lost her innocence."
Greenblatt found Randall Behning, 52, guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, child pornography and indecent solicitation of an adult. He faces a minimum sentence of 28 years, prosecutors said.
Behning, an honorably discharged Army veteran, had denied abusing the girl, taking pictures of her unclothed or encouraging a neighbor to have sex with her. His friends and family testified they never noticed Behning behaving inappropriately. Greenblatt praised their forthrightness but pointed out these kind of allegations "don't occur in plain sight."
"These acts as alleged are sinister, and they're perpetrated in secret," said Greenblatt, who said Behning's behavior was that of a sexual predator.
"You stalked, groomed, assaulted and abused a child. You degraded her in front of a neighbor," said Greenblatt to an impassive Behning, whose family and friends -- about 15 people -- were equally reserved upon hearing the verdict.
Defense attorney Fred Morelli expressed disappointment with the verdict.
"We think the judge was wrong," he said. "We're going to appeal."
The parties return to court Aug. 30 for post-trial motions and a pre-sentence report.
In announcing his decision, Greenblatt cited testimony from Elgin police detective Carla Carter, who said she recovered a photograph of the naked girl from a laptop Behning controlled. Prosecutors introduced the photo, labeled exhibit 7, which they claimed Behning took, as evidence of child pornography.
Addressing the pornography charge, Greenblatt quoted a 1964 landmark opinion by Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, in which Stewart wrote of pornography: "I know it when I see it."
"As do I," said Greenblatt. "Exhibit 7 is child pornography."
In her closing argument, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Kristin Piper asked that Behning be held accountable for initiating "a 12-year-old girl into the world of pornography and sexual abuse."
Now 18, the girl will attend college in the fall. Her grades, which she said faltered during the time she was abused, rebounded and she graduated high school with As and Bs and advanced placement credits.
She said her greatest fear was that Behning might abuse other victims. His conviction makes that unlikely.
"Chances are, Randy won't be back on the streets anytime soon to do this to someone else," she said.
Greenblatt praised the girl for her candor and her detailed testimony.
"She relived these events in an open court, in a public place. She is a courageous young woman," he said.