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2017 Kane County Chronicle Best of the Fox

Jury convicts Sugar Grove man in sexual assault of child

Published: Friday, March 17, 2017 5:16 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, March 19, 2017 4:01 p.m. CDT
Caption
Noel F. Buhay was convicted of three counts of predatory criminal sexual abuse of a child.

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A jury convicted a Sugar Grove man on three counts of felony predatory criminal sexual assault of a child March 17 after a five-day trial.

Noel F. Buhay, 49, was immediately taken into custody as Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler revoked the bond he posted on the case and a second similar case, which is pending.

Tegeler set June 2 for sentencing. Tegeler said Buhay has 30 days to file for a new trial. Buhay faces between six and 30 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000 on each count.

The jury found Buhay not guilty of indecent solicitation of a child.

As Buhay was handcuffed and taken to the Kane County jail, his extended family and supporters cried and hugged each other in the hall outside of the courtroom. Inside the courtroom, the victims hugged their supporters and advocates.

Buhay was charged in 2013 with sexually assaulting a boy. Then – in 2014 – he was charged with sexually assaulting a second boy, court records show.

The court is treating them as companion cases, but proceeded to trial on the 2014 case involving the first victim, identified as R.P. in court records. Charges against Buhay in connection with the second victim are pending, court records show.

R.P., now 23, was a 10-year-old foster child living with Buhay, first at a home in Aurora, then in Sugar Grove in 2004.

R.P. was removed from the home after he alleged Buhay abused him, but the case did not proceed until a second victim came forward.

The second victim, now 17, identified in court papers as J.H., reported the abuse in 2013. J.H. testified as a witness against Buhay.

Defense attorneys brought nieces, nephews and neighbors from the time Buhay lived in Aurora as witnesses. They testified that he hosted children at his house – sometimes all summer – without harming them.

Some neighbors, now adults, testified that R.P. was known to be untruthful.

In closing statements, Buhay attorney Michael Riedy characterized R.P.’s accusations as false and asserted those from J.H. were connected to a custody dispute.

But prosecutor Andrew Whitfield disputed that there was a “grand conspiracy concocted by the victims” against Buhay.

“He must be the unluckiest person in the world,” Whitfield said of Buhay.

“They don’t know each other,” Whitfield said of the victims, pointing to enlarged computer photos of the boys when they were younger – both smiling and looking happy. “They described the same acts of oral sex.”

Whitfield said Buhay, a man without children, had a house and yard full of toys – from remote controlled cars on tracks and ramps in the back yard to games inside his house.

“What a wonderful place this house was,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield said Buhay treated R.P. and J.H., two fatherless boys, like rock stars.

“They loved him,” Whitfield said. “He was a foster father to R.P. and a father figure to J.H. … He used that to commit acts of sexual penetration on R.P. That is what the evidence shows.”

Riedy told the jury there was no physical evidence against Buhay. Riedy said the state’s case was based on the accusations of R.P., whom Riedy said was an unreliable and inconsistent witness.

“It was 90 to 100 times to 50 times to two times,” Riedy said of R.P.’s testimony of how many times Buhay forced oral or anal sex on him.

Riedy said that is why R.P.’s initial allegations were not followed through, because he was not believable.

“An allegation of sexual abuse of a child does not lower their [the state’s] burden of proof,” Riedy said. “Which time, which event, are you supposed to believe?”

But assistant state’s attorney Lori Schmidt rebutted Riedy’s characterizations, saying children lie about whether they have done their homework or walked the dog.

“They don’t lie about sexual abuse,” Schmidt said.

Extended family and friends came to the trial to support Buhay, while Kane County CASA volunteers came to support R.P.

J.H. was flanked by more than a dozen members of Bikers Against Child Abuse. The non-profit supports victims of child abuse in court and other circumstances by its members’ physical presence, according to its website, www.bacaworld.org.

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