Sex assault trial wraps for former youth mentor; verdict expected next week

WOODSTOCK – The bench trial for a one-time youth mentor accused of sexually abusing a young boy concluded during its second day, but a McHenry County judge won’t announce the verdict until next week.

Leonard Puccini, 53, of Bull Valley, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, a Class 2 felony. If found guilty, Puccini could face between three to seven years in prison.

Puccini is accused of pulling down the pants and underpants and spanking a then-12-year-old boy he met through Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County. The alleged victim, now 16 years old, testified that Puccini was wearing boxer shorts at the time and was sexually aroused during the incident, after which Puccini went to his bedroom, where the boy heard what sounded like Puccini masturbating.

The bench trial in front of Judge Michael Feetterer finished Tuesday, and he is set to announce his verdict May 30.

The prosecution called two past acquaintances of Puccini’s, now adults, who said the man sexually abused them when they were younger. Prosecutors said this showed that Puccini had a habit of preying on young boys.

“To say he has a predilection toward young boys is an understatement,” said Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Combs, chief of the department’s criminal division. “He’s a child molester. Let’s call a spade a spade.”

The Northwest Herald does not identify people alleging that they are victims of sexual abuse.

Puccini is not facing sex charges in connection with those two witnesses because the statute of limitations has lapsed, Combs said.

In closing arguments, Puccini’s defense attorney, Steve Greenberg, tried to poke holes in the testimony of the boy and his mother, saying it was an elaborate ruse made up for the mother’s financial gain. Greenberg said she “had a plan” and called her testimony a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

“Did [the alleged victim] really look like he wanted to tell that story, or was it something he was made to say?” Greenberg said. “… [Her] end game was to sue and get some money out of it.”

Greenberg also called into question the boy’s statements because he testified on Monday that in 2009 he was lying on his stomach watching TV in Puccini’s living room when the man came behind the boy and pulled down his pants. The alleged victim’s pants were buttoned and zipped. The boy couldn’t possibly see whether Puccini was sexually aroused, and he was mistaken about the sounds he heard, Greenberg said.

There is a pending sex case against Puccini and another in connection with computer tampering.

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