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Algonquin man gets probation in fondling case

WOODSTOCK – A McHenry County judge on Thursday ordered two years of probation for an Algonquin man found guilty of fondling a young girl at his wife’s in-home day care center.

A jury in November convicted Mohammad A. Salam, 62, of aggravated criminal sexual abuse for the touching, which prosecutors said took place in 2010. As the charge is a Class 2 felony, Salam could have been sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

In handing down probation, McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather noted Salam’s lack of criminal history and a pre-sentencing report that found he was unlikely to re-offend.

The victim was 5 years old at the time and testified at the trial that Salam touched her butt underneath her clothing about three times a week while they were in his upstairs bedroom.

A number of witnesses testified Thursday with respect to Salam’s character. As they pleaded for the judge’s leniency, many said he was a well-educated pillar in the community, a man who reached the upper echelons of his church and was the glue of his family.

Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud was less sympathetic. He called Salam’s actions “reprehensible” and “disgusting,” saying that Salam not only abused the victim, now 8 years old, but the trust parents had placed in him.

“He took a child’s innocence and a jury took his,” Zalud said.

Salam will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Before the sentencing, Prather denied Salam’s request for a new trial. His defense attorney, Stephen Komie, said outside the courtroom he hadn’t ruled out an appeal. Komie maintains his client was wrongfully accused.

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