WOODSTOCK – After about three hours of deliberating, a jury found an Algonquin man guilty of fondling a 5-year-old girl at his wife's in-home day care.
Mohammad Salam, 62, was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse for the touching that prosecutors said took place in 2010.
Salam remains out on bond awaiting sentencing on Jan. 3, when he faces up to seven years in prison for the Class 2 felony. He is also eligible for probation.
The girl, who is now 7, testified that Salam “used to touch my butt” underneath her clothing about three times a week while they were in his upstairs bedroom.
In January 2011, she and her sister were taking a bath when their mother heard them talking about touching. The mother then later asked the girl more and the allegations came forward.
Defense attorney Margi Worth said the situation was like a game of telephone, where one person tells another person something and it continues on down the line, coming out completely different.
"We got the mother's interpretation," Worth said.
Worth said there was an inconsistency between the mother's statement to police, where she initially reported that her daughter said Salam touched her in a different part of the body.
The girl was also malleable and reacted to her mother, also likely overhearing conversations between her mother and father, Worth said.
"We have to remember that little girls have big ears," she said.
Worth also said the mother had been upset with the daycare over having to pay Salam's wife for a week of vacation.
But to say that the victim's mother put her daughter up to everything, including taking the stand and pointing out Salam, over $325 is "absurd" and "insulting," prosecutors said.
"The [family] trusted him and that day care," Assistant State's Attorney Robert Zalud said. "What did he do with that? He fondled their daughter."
The girl told police that Salam touched her underneath her underwear, and there is no reason other than for sexual gratification for Salam to be doing so, Zalud said.
According to court records, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services put a protective plan into place stating that Salam was not to be on the premises during the day care hours and could not have any contact with any of the day care children.
The Salams later surrendered their day care license after Mohammad Salam was accused of violating the plan.
Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 3.