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Article updated: 12/14/2012 7:30 PM

Defense presents its case in Mount Prospect man's sex assault trial

By Barbara Vitello

Seven defense witnesses, including two police detectives who previously testified for the prosecution, took the witness stand Friday as day four of Herbert Burgess's trial on charges he wrongfully detained and sexually assaulted a teenage boy drew to a close.

The witnesses included the accuser's uncle, who testified he heard his brother -- the boy's father -- telling other family members that the father planted the semen-stained T-shirt that police recovered containing DNA matching Burgess. The Daily Herald is not naming the boy's father or his uncle in order to protect the boy's identity.

The boy's uncle admitted to defense attorney Eric Rinehart that he is not close with his brother.

"I don't have anything to do with him," he said.

Under cross examination by Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Gerber, the man admitted he served time in a federal prison in Kentucky on charges of drug distribution and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Prosecutors claim Burgess, 58, sexually assaulted the then 15-year-old boy at Burgess's Mount Prospect apartment the afternoon of Aug. 8, 2011. The defendant groomed and cultivated the now 16-year-old high school sophomore by buying him clothes and gifts, lunch and dinner and taking him to Burgess's health club, Gerber said.

Prosecutors say Burgess assaulted the teen again several days later at the John S. Swift Printing Co. in Buffalo Grove, where the boy was working a summer job and where Burgess served as the human resources manager.

Lake County prosecutors filed charges against Burgess for the second alleged assault. That case is still pending.

Burgess, who no longer works for the printing company, has pleaded not guilty to the charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and unlawful restraint. He denies the allegations, which defense attorney Eric Rinehart insisted the teen's father fabricated in order to profit financially from a settlement Rinehart says the family received from the Swift company.

According to Rinehart, the teenager's father and Burgess were planning to go into business together, but that never materialized. The boy's mother, an executive assistant with the printing company whom the Daily Herald is not naming in order to protect the boy's identity, testified that Burgess and her son's father began a business relationship last year.

The boy's father denied that was the case, testifying earlier that "(Burgess) made a lot of promises but I found out he had no money."

An informant who shared a cell with Burgess at the Lake County jail testified earlier that Burgess told him the teen liked older men and was attracted to Burgess. The informant, William Abruscato, said Burgess made statements about the alleged assaults. Abruscato further testified that Burgess wanted to have his accuser beaten with a baseball bat and killed in an attack made to appear gang-related.

Rinehart says he expects Burgess will testify in his own defense when the trial resumes Monday in Rolling Meadows.

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