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updated: 12/14/2017 6:49 AM

Former Gavin teacher asks judge to review abuse case

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  • Michael Vucic

    Michael Vucic

 
 

A former Gavin School District 37 teacher sentenced to 50 years in prison for molesting two former students wants his case reviewed by a Lake County judge.

Michael Vucic, 45, has filed a post-conviction petition claiming his constitutional rights were violated during previous court hearings because his former defense attorney was "ineffectual."

Vucic is seeking "court relief" from Judge Daniel Shanes. Generally, when a defendant is seeking "court relief" in post-conviction petitions, it means he wants his prison sentence reduced or is asking the judge to throw out his guilty plea and take the case to trial.

Attorney Thomas Brandstrader would not comment on the specific relief Vucic is seeking. Shanes set a Feb. 21 hearing.

Vucic, formerly of Lake Forest, pleaded guilty Sept. 24, 2015, to single counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and possession of child pornography for molesting one victim, and criminal sexual assault and possession of child pornography for illicit acts with a second victim. He was facing up to 83 years in prison when Shanes sentenced him to 50 years.

Vucic was initially charged in 2014 on more than 50 counts ranging from predatory criminal sexual assault to aggravated criminal sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The episodes in 2007 and 2012 with each victim took place when Vucic worked as a teacher at Gavin South Middle School in Ingleside.

Prosecutors said one of the victims told her grandparents she engaged in sex acts with Vucic after school in his classroom and during video chats. The grandparents contacted the sheriff's office.

In the 2012 case, authorities said Vucic -- who was the victim's social studies teacher -- would request the student come to his classroom after school. They would engage in sex acts in the classroom and also online. Police said Vucic assaulted the girl several times during an unspecified period of time.

Police said they also recovered video of Vucic and the student engaging in sex acts at the school in 2012. It was on the tapes that police discovered another victim dating to 2007.

While the case was under investigation but before charges were filed, Vucic fled the country. He was arrested by members of the sheriff's office and Interpol in Bosnia-Herzegovina in September 2014, three weeks after charges were filed.

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