CAMBRIDGE -- A Colona man has been sentenced to natural life in prison for sexual abuse and assault of a pre-teen girl.
In a bench trial, Judge Charles "Casey" Stengel on Tuesday found Justin Bealer, 28, guilty of five counts of Class X felony predatory criminal sexual assault/victim under 13 and two counts of Class 2 felony aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
The Class X felonies carry a penalty of natural life in prison.Henry County State's Attorney Terry Patton said it will be up to Judge Stengel if Mr. Bealer also gets natural life in prison for an August jury conviction of two predatory criminal sexual assault/victim under 13 charges against another victim.
"At the end of the day, does it really matter?" Mr. Patton said.
Judge Stengel also found Mr. Bealer not guilty of eight other counts.
The tearful mother of the victim in this week's trial thanked Mr. Patton and victim witness coordinator Brenda Kopp for their work. She said she was glad her daughter "can have her life now."
"I'm very glad it's over," she said. "I'm very glad justice has been served.
"I'm thankful for both of the (victims) for coming forward," she said. "They've spared a lot of others."
The victim, now 17, testified Monday that Mr. Bealer abused and assaulted her when she was in fifth and sixth grade. Her testimony was followed on Tuesday byWilliam Shink of the U.S. Secret Service, who discussed items found during a forensic examination of Mr. Bealer's laptop computer.
Lucille Bealer, Mr. Bealer's grandmother, testified on Tuesday as a defense witness, denying her grandson babysat the victim, although the victim said she had been at the house multiple times. Ms. Bealer also denied asking her grandson if the allegations were true, although Illinois State Police investigators testified she had.
Mr. Patton asked Ms. Bealer if she took a hammer to a computer in her home after Mr. Bealer's arrest. She said had just been cleaning.
A hearing on post-trial motions was set for Dec. 27.
Today is Sunday, May 19, the 139th day of 2013. There are 226 days left in the year. 1863 -- 150 years ago: The Rt. Rev. Harry I. Witherspoon, D.D. Bishop of Illinois, willpreach in Trinity (Episcopal) Church, in this city this evening. 1888 -- 125 years ago: At 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon the Mississippi River flooded itsbanks at Rock Island, destroying the warehouse of the Rock Island Lumber companyand damaging the Lumber Company and arsenal power plant. Total loss isestimated at $100.000. 1913 -- 100 years ago: Residents of South Rock Island township are circulating a petitionfavoring the annexation of that area to the city of Rock Island. 1938 -- 75 years ago: Mrs. Thomas Ackles, of Rock Island, has been elected president ofthe Playcrafters for the next season. She succeeds Warren Leonard. 1963 -- 50 years ago: Some 8,000 people filed through the gates of Rock Island Arsenal on Saturday to view a display of a part of the nation's armed strength. The occasion was theannual observance of Armed Forces Day. 1988 -- 25 years ago: Willis Kuschmann, of Moline, who already has won his laurels as oneof the most artistic men in the Quad-Cities area, has a new hobby. He is deeply involvedin miniature railroading. At the age of 88, when many other seniors are dozing in theirchairs or sitting before the television, Mr. Kuschmann is planning and working on hiscollection.