WOODSTOCK – Months after a pastor repeatedly spanked a preteen girl he believed had falsely accused her stepfather of sexual abuse, the girl’s mother waited to report renewed allegations – at the pastor’s request.
Brenda Eichelberg, mother of the now-16-year-old alleged victim, said she believed her daughter when she told her the allegations to explain why she was happy her stepfather had moved out of the house. Matthew Resh, now 36, had dropped off divorce papers the day before that conversation Oct. 19, 2005.
Eichelberg’s testimony Tuesday occupied much of the second day of Resh’s trial on five counts of predatory criminal sexual abuse, which allegedly happened between September 2003 and March 2005. Eichelberg said she urged her daughter to discuss details of the alleged abuse late on Oct. 19, 2005, and called the Rev. Daryl Bujak, then pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Elgin, the next morning.
Bujak asked her to wait to call police since Resh was no longer living with the rest of the family so that Bujak could make a few calls, Eichelberg testified.
“He wanted to make sure the church wouldn’t be hurt by these revelations,” Eichelberg testified in McHenry County Circuit Court. “I should just hang tight.”
And she did – for about five days. Eichelberg said her first phone call to Bujak was on a Thursday and said Bujak was satisfied that the girl was telling the truth after talking with her on Friday. Eichelberg said she called police the following Monday after telling Bujak that she had waited long enough.
That exchange came months after Bujak counseled the family shortly after the girl left her mother a note with general abuse allegations. In March 2005, Eichelberg and her husband discussed the allegations with her daughter before turning to Bujak. After the girl told Bujak she was lying about the allegations, Bujak suggested that he and Resh administer corporal punishment based on whether the girl had misbehaved at home recently.
During cross-examination, Resh’s attorney pressed Eichelberg about why she didn’t believe her daughter in March 2005 but did in October 2005. She said she didn’t believe in March 2005 that her husband was capable of sexual abuse.
“[My daughter] had a history of being naughty,” Eichelberg said. “And people who molest children are gross old leches who do other deviant things. And that wasn’t Matt.”
But seven months later, the girl’s happiness that her stepfather had moved out so sharply contrasted with Eichelberg’s and her other children’s grief that Eichelberg figured the allegations must have some credence, Eichelberg said.
Eichelberg’s testimony also revealed that the girl had previously told her mother that Resh was touching her inappropriately without Eichelberg telling authorities. When the girl was about six, she told her mother that Resh hugged her too long. When she was 8 or 9, she told her mother that Resh had her expose herself to him, Eichelberg testified.
Bujak was convicted this year in Kane County of two counts of misdemeanor battery for spanking the girl with a piece of wood molding. Kane County Judge Allen Anderson sentenced Bujak to a year of court supervision, 80 hours of community service, and a $350 fine plus court costs.