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, March 9, the 68th day of 2014. There are 297 days left in the year. 1864 -- 150 years ago: Much damage is being done to sidewalks, shade trees, fences and gardens by hogs that are running at large about town. 1889 -- 125 years ago: H.C. Cleveland was elected air knight captain of Rock Island Division Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias. 1914 -- 100 years ago: B.W. Wilson, authority on birds and their habits, spoke at the weekly luncheon at the Rock Island Club. 1939 -- 75 years ago: The famous Dionne quintuplets have been invited to visit King George and Queen Elizabeth in Toronto on May 22, but Papa Dionne thinks their majesties should include the Callander nursery in their tour. 1964 -- 50 years ago: Ever been smothered by funny stuff? Well more than 2,600 people were last night when two boys named Tom and Dick Smothers took a "rocky, twisting road to folk music" in Davenport Masonic Temple. 1989 -- 25 years ago: Moline residents soon may be asked to recycle part of their garbage and might even get paid for it.