One-time family friend gets 57 years for molesting girl

  • Stephen D. Silvey

    Stephen D. Silvey

Published9/11/2009 10:08 PM

A Naperville man was sentenced Friday to 57 years in prison for molesting a girl, beginning at 7, and threatening to kill her family if she tried to break free from him.

Stephen D. Silvey did not have a criminal record. In fact, he was a highly educated computer expert with a military background and family who viewed him as their rock.


But Silvey, 47, was living a double life.

He began raping the girl in December 1999 while staying with her family in Naperville. Her father became friends with Silvey years earlier while the two attended the same Oklahoma university, and the defendant often drove to Illinois on weekends to help with the family business.

The abuse continued for two years until the girl's parents, unaware of the crimes but leery of his constant presence and meddling in their family, severed all ties. He moved into a Naperville apartment on Testa Avenue, where Silvey continued molesting the girl from October 2004 through February 2007. She made an outcry that March.

Silvey pleaded guilty June 17 to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, intimidation and possession of child pornography. He faced 12 to 77 years in prison.

In a rambling one-hour oratory, Silvey read a more than 50-page statement Friday in which he said he didn't realize back then that having sex with a child was deviant behavior. He blamed his conduct on depression, his inability to find an adult girlfriend, and certain health and mental dysfunctions. He criticized the young victim, her parents, prosecutors and even his own attorney.

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Still, Silvey did apologize and pledged such conduct would never be repeated since he now understands it is wrong.

DuPage Circuit Judge Peter J. Dockery wasn't swayed.

"He is not really remorseful for his crimes at all," Dockery said. "He is totally oblivious to the harm and pain he caused the victim and instead is completely focused on himself."

Police searched Silvey's apartment and computers and said they recovered tens of thousands of images of child pornography - some of which the girl said he made her watch to convince her their sex was normal. On March 9, 2007, police secretly recorded a conversation between the girl and Silvey in which he threatened to beat her and said he had a bullet for her mother.

His attorney, Brian Jacobs, a senior DuPage County public defender, argued Silvey deserves some consideration for accepting responsibility through a guilty plea, as well as for leading a productive life before the charged crimes. Three of Silvey's brothers earlier testified that he is the family's rock, and friends wrote letters of support.


The prosecution team, led by DuPage State's Attorney Joseph Birkett, sought a maximum punishment for crimes they called "beyond comprehension." Silvey still faces similar charges in Texas involving another friend's daughter.

"The defendant was an expert at living a double life," said Birkett, who called Silvey a monster. "People didn't know the other deviant side of him. That's true of many child sexual predators. Make no mistake, he is the worst kind. He is not a stranger in the park. He's a trusted friend who comes into your home."

The girl wrote a letter to the judge in which she described how Silvey controlled her through manipulation and threats. She still is in counseling, having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Silvey stole her childhood, the young woman said, but will not rob her of a bright future.

"I feel free; a feeling that I never really had until now," she wrote. "Slowly, I am growing stronger and despite what he did to me, I plan on making a difference in the world. I look forward to the day that I can let go of the hurt and pain."

Prison: Abuser's long statement doesn't persuade judge

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