Courthouse event draws attention to child abuse -- and need for volunteers to help victims
More than 50 people stood on the lawn of the Kane County Courthouse in downtown Geneva at noon Thursday, with their heads bowed, clasping blue-and-silver pinwheel toys.
They were remembering, in a moment of silence, the victims of child abuse and neglect -- "especially those that are still hiding," said Gloria Kelley, executive director of Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Kane County.
CASA's annual "Hands Around the Courthouse" ceremony closed out observation of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. The color of the pinwheels hearkens to the blue ribbon a Virginia grandmother placed on her car's radio antenna in 1989, to memorialize the death of her grandson, in the first observation, Kelley said.
"Every child has the right to be treated with dignity and respect," she said.
CASA volunteers are guardian ad litems appointed by judges to advocate for the interests of victims in criminal cases of abuse and neglect, and in civil guardianship cases (such as when a relative petitions to become guardian of children).
Kelly said about 150,000 reports of suspected neglect or abuse had been called in to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services' tip line as of the end of March. About 250,000 reports were called in during all of 2020.
"And that's good. Because when people see something, they are saying something," Kelley said.
She suspects two reasons for the increase. The first is children are attending school in person, so mandated abuse reporters such as teachers are seeing them again. The other is the public's increased interest in the wake of the death of AJ Freund of Crystal Lake. AJ died in 2019 as a result of abuse and neglect by his parents. There was much attention, first as the parents first reported him missing and later when they were charged and the details of the abuse came out.
Kelley said CASA Kane County is currently looking out for 428 children in the criminal cases. But it has stopped taking on guardianship cases, because it does not have enough volunteers.
You don't have to be a lawyer to be a CASA volunteer. To learn more about CASA's work in Kane County, visit casakanecounty.org. For info in other suburban counties, and nationwide, visit nationalcasagal.org.
The McHenry County sheriff's office is warning the public about an increase in counterfeit prescription drugs in the community, some of which have been laced with fentanyl and are suspected of causing overdoses and deaths.
- Associated Press file photo
A recent surge in counterfeit prescription medications laced with fentanyl may be behind several overdoses and deaths, the McHenry County sheriff's Narcotics Task Force said in a warning to the public this week.
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid that can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses or combined with other substances, including alcohol. It and numerous other substances have been discovered in counterfeit Percocet (oxycodone hydrochloride) pills stamped with "M 30." The pills -- known as "Perc 30s" or "Blue M30" -- look identical to factory-manufactured Percocet, sheriff's police said.
Those who believe they may have counterfeit pills should notify local law enforcement immediately. The sheriff's office also recommends against buying or taking any prescription medication not prescribed to them, or prescription drugs with unverified origins.
They're also asking community members to share the warning with relatives and friends.
Anyone aware of related criminal activity is asked to call McHenry County Crime Stoppers at (800) 762-STOP or the McHenry County sheriff's tip line at (815) 338-2144. Callers to Crime Stoppers may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and prosecution.
For information on treatment options for a substance use disorder, visit www.mchenrycountysac.org.
The office of Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg is teaming with the Zakat Foundation of America, United Giving Hope, and DoorDash to provide warm meals for families in need next week.
The Lake County sheriff's office is partnering with Zakat Foundation of America, United Giving Hope and DoorDash to provide warm meals for families in need next week.
The Feel the Hunger to Do Good event is set for 4 p.m. Friday, May 7, in the parking lot of the sheriff's office headquarters, 25 S. Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. in Waukegan.
Volunteers will distribute warm meals to individuals and families struggling to keep food on the table, including members of the homeless population.
"A hot meal is a luxury not every member of our community is able to have," Sheriff John D. Idleburg said in an announcement. "I welcome any opportunity to partner with others to give to those who need it the most. I am so thankful Zakat Foundation of American, DoorDash and United Giving Hope made it possible to bring this event to Waukegan."
When Anton Cross is sentenced in May for committing second-degree murder, it will be as an adult, even though he committed the crime when he was a minor.
Kane County Judge David Kliment ruled last week that several factors merit so sentencing Cross -- who was tried as an adult -- rather than treating him as a juvenile.
Cross was 17 years, 10 months and 21 days old when he shot rival Timothy Jones during a drug deal in December 2016. Cross was charged with first-degree murder. Under state law, juveniles 16 and older charged with first-degree murder have to be tried as adults. In a bench trial, Kliment ruled Cross acted out of an unreasonable belief he faced death or imminent danger, and so convicted him of the lesser included charge.
On April 20, Kliment agreed with prosecutors that if he sentenced Cross as a juvenile, Cross likely wouldn't spend any more time incarcerated, because there is no youth facility that handles adults. Cross is now 22.
Also weighing in the state's favor, Kliment said, were the two juvenile cases in which Cross was judged to be a delinquent -- a 2016 battery and a 2015 possession of a stolen motor vehicle. His behavior while held in the Kane County jail didn't help either, as he was charged with assault in 2019.
Cross could be sentenced to four to 20 years in prison.
He has been Kane County custody since January 2017.
The DuPage County sheriff's office announces it has a redesigned website, with what it boasts is an easier-to-use inmate search function and a more comprehensive foreclosure listing feature. You can check it out at dupagesheriff.org.
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