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Local

Sugar Grove man convicted of child sexual assault

‘Father figure’ already was serving sentence for similar case

Noel Buhay was convicted in 2017 of three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. A second trial on similar charges began this week.
Noel Buhay was convicted in 2017 of three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. A second trial on similar charges began this week.

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A Sugar Grove man was found guilty on nine counts of sexual assault of a child on the second day of a bench trial Nov. 6.

Kane County Circuit Judge D.J. Tegeler found Noel F. Buhay, 51, guilty on eight counts of predatory criminal sexual abuse of a child, a Class X felony punishable by six to 30 years in prison, and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony punishable by three to seven years in prison and fines of up to $25,000 on each.

Tegeler set Jan. 25 for motions on a new trial and possible sentencing.

The victim, identified in court papers as J.H., testified Nov. 5 that Buhay had been a father figure to him, and that not long after he began staying overnight at the man’s house, Buhay molested him, performing oral sex on him from the time he was 6 or 7 years old until he was 10.

Buhay was charged in 2013 on multiple counts of felony predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

This is the second trial for Buhay, who was convicted last year on three counts of felony predatory criminal sexual assault of another boy. Tegeler sentenced him to 45 years in prison.

The court treated them as companion cases, going to trial on the 2014 case involving the first victim, identified as R.P. in court records.

A jury convicted Buhay in that first case, but he opted for a bench trial before Tegeler for the second, which began Nov. 5 .

Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Lori Schmidt said that Buhay gained access to J.H. by offering child care while the boy’s mother worked and went to school.

“He was grooming him,” Schmidt said. “The defendant had all kinds of toys and rooms set up for children. He made [J.H.] feel special.”

“I loved him,” J.H. testified. “He was a father figure.”

J.H. became emotional during his testimony, sometimes needing a tissue, often holding a hand over his face and speaking so softly that Tegeler asked him to speak up.

Buhay fathered a child with J.H.’s mother and when J.H. was about 10, they had a custody dispute and J.H. could not go to his house any more.

The abuse came to light when Buhay befriended J.H.’s biological father.

J.H.’s father testified that Buhay “came on” to him during a computer chat.

“I was shocked,” J.H.’s father said, adding he then ended the conversation.

A month later, he talked to J.H.’s mother on the phone and asked if she thought Buhay might be gay and asked her to speak to J.H.

“I wanted to know if he had come on to my son,” J.H.’s father testified.

She called him back in a half hour, “hysterical,” he testified.

J.H., then 14, told his mother about the sexual abuse and they went to the Sugar Grove police to file a report, then to the Kane County Child Advocacy Center, resulting in the charges against Buhay on Jan. 31, 2013.

Buhay’s attorney, David Imielski, pointed out that J.H.’s testimony was different than what he told investigators.

J.H. said he was embarrassed and did not say everything that happened to him because it was “gross.”

After prosecutors rested their case, Imielski sought a directed verdict, stating there was no evidence that any abuse took place, no other witnesses and that J.H. was not credible.

Imielski said J.H.’s testimony in court was different than what he told investigators and police – getting specific details wrong, not remembering other details and admitting he did not tell investigators everything that he now said had happened to him.

“To say his testimony was sketchy is generous,” Imielski said.

Schmidt said it was unreasonable to expect a child to be specific about what dates he had been molested.

“He had no motive to make this up,” Schmidt said.

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