Former special education aide sentenced to 24 years for sex assault

  • Israel Suaste-Gonzalez

    Israel Suaste-Gonzalez

 
 
Updated 9/14/2021 5:38 PM

A former Lake County special education teacher's aide who admitted to sexually abusing a student was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years in prison.

Israel Suaste-Gonzalez, 50, of the 19000 block of Cambridge Road near Mundelein, had been facing up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to two counts of criminal sexual assault.

 

Suaste-Gonzalez, who received credit for two years he's already spent in custody, must serve at least 85% of his sentence before he's eligible for parole.

As part of his plea deal, 15 other charges against Suaste-Gonzalez were dropped, including four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault of a handicapped person and four counts of criminal sex assault by force.

Authorities say Suaste-Gonzalez committed the crimes from 2016 to 2018, when he was working as a paraprofessional at a Special Education District of Lake County facility in Grayslake. The facility specializes in preparing students ages 18 to 21 for life beyond high school.

Prosecutors declined to release the student's age to protect her identity. She reported the attacks in late November 2019, officials said.

The student, who called Suaste-Gonzalez her teacher, said he molested her multiple times at the school, prosecutors said. The student believed she was required to participate because her "teacher" repeatedly said so and told her not to tell anyone, authorities said.

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After the complaint, Suaste-Gonzalez was removed from his position and suspended without pay, pending dismissal, according to SEDOL officials.

Suaste-Gonzalez admitted to police he sexually abused the student at least five times, according to county prosecutors. He was arrested in December 2019 and has been in custody at the Lake County jail since on $2 million bail.

In March 2020, the student's parents sued SEDOL alleging it failed to protect their daughter. Their attorney said at the time that the district failed to enforce its policy barring male teachers from being alone with female students.

They also allege SEDOL failed to train the staff on preventing sexual abuse or enforcing sexual abuse prevention policies.

Tara Devine, the attorney for the victim's parents, said last month that she believes the lawsuit will begin to move forward now that Suaste-Gonzalez has been convicted.

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