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Crystal Lake coach gets 2 years for child porn

Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2014 4:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 13, 2014 12:22 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Provided photo)
Testimony at a sentencing hearing for Marcus J. Sabo revealed that the former youth baseball coach bought alcohol for underage athletes, and had sexually suggestive photos of players.

WOODSTOCK – Testimony at a sentencing hearing for Marcus J. Sabo revealed the former youth baseball coach bought alcohol for underage athletes and had sexually suggestive photos of players.

Sabo, 41, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison after previously pleading guilty to 20 counts of possessing child pornography. The images of the local players did not meet the criteria for child pornography charges, and were not among those in the 60-count bill of indictment.

As part of the plea deal accepted in February by McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather, the remaining 40 counts against Sabo were dropped.

Sabo coached 15-year-old boys in the Crystal Lake Babe Ruth Baseball League. As soon as the charges were filed, his positions with the league were revoked and he was barred from having contact with the league or its athletes, the organization said.

“When these allegations came out in March, the League immediately severed all ties,” said Bill Bligh, an attorney for the Babe Ruth organization. “It wasn’t innocent until proven guilty, they severed all ties.”

Special Agent Dan Thomas with the Illinois State Police said Thursday the photos of the players included one of a child’s buttocks, another of a child wearing only a jock strap, and one that he described as a shot from the thigh down of an unclothed boy standing on a baseball diamond with his Babe Ruth baseball uniform on the ground.

Those images were found on Sabo’s camera, but prosecutors stopped short of saying the former coach took the photographs.

Thomas also said text messages between Sabo and the players indicate that Sabo would fill alcohol orders for the boys. Other text messages Sabo sent to a player were overtly sexual and talked about masturbation and genitalia, prosecutors have said.

The league had no knowledge of the photographs or text messages prior to Thursday’s sentencing hearing, Bligh said. There never were player or parent complaints about Sabo.

State police investigators found hundreds of images of child pornography in Sabo’s Crystal Lake home that were downloaded over a number of years, Thomas said. The images depicted young boys in sexually explicit or lewd positions. Sabo’s Internet history also revealed he had visited child pornography websites.

As the allegations came to light, Sabo attempted suicide and was treated in mental health facilities, his attorney Assistant Public Defender Angelo Mourelatos said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally called Sabo an “overly cautious and unskilled predator” who was waiting for the right circumstances to act on his sexual urges and “to do what he wants to do with somebody’s kid.” Kenneally asked the judge to sentence Sabo to prison.

Mourelatos pointed out that a social worker found Sabo to have a low risk for further offenses and that he responded well to sex offender treatment.

Mourelatos said Sabo was an appropriate candidate for community-based treatment, and cited Sabo’s limited criminal history – which, aside from traffic tickets, was a DUI charge from 1997. Mourelatos asked the judge for probation.

But Prather said the time long had passed for Sabo to get treatment. In handing down her sentence, the judge said Sabo abused his position of trust within the baseball league.

Sabo has been in custody of McHenry County Jail since August. He will receive credit for the time he’s served, and day for day credit, meaning he could be nearing a release date. He must register for life as a sex offender.

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