Gurnee-area man pleads not guilty in sexual assault
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A Gurnee-area man accused of sexually attacking at least two young victims in 2012 faces mandatory life in prison if convicted, a Lake County judge warned Tuesday.
Nyasha Mbawa, 19, of the 36000 block of Grand Oaks Court, pleaded not guilty to 18 varying counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child in front of Lake County Judge Christopher Stride.
Stride told Mbawa that if he is found guilty on two of the most serious counts, and if those counts involve two separate children, he would be sentenced to mandatory life in prison.
Otherwise, Stride explained, Mbawa faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty on any single count of predatory criminal sexual abuse, and up to 14 years in jail if found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child.
Mbawa remains held in Lake County jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
Defense attorney Jed Stone would not comment on the charges after court, except to say, "I'm a little distressed they are trying to lock this 19-year-old young man for the rest of his natural born life."
According to police, Mbawa was arrested July 16, five days after the mother of one of the victims reported to the Lake County sheriff's office that her daughter was the victim of a sexual crime.
Sheriff's police and the Lake County Children's Advocacy Center worked together to investigate the accusation, authorities said, and Mbawa told detectives he had inappropriate sexual contact with the victims.
Police initially said two victims were involved, but Stride listed the initials of three victims in court Tuesday.
Police said the investigation remains open and additional charges could be filed if more victims come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Lake County Sheriff's Det. Ann Schiltz at (847) 377-4149.
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