Crime & Courts

Trial date set for Kingston man, 19, accused of raping 2 girls

In separate case, his mother faces forgery charges as tax assessor

SYCAMORE – While Brenton W. Cleveland, a 19-year-old Kingston man accused of raping two girls at his 18th birthday party in 2016, had his trial set Tuesday, his mother is in trouble with the law, as well.

Cleveland will have a bench trial – one of two, since his lawyers won a motion to have the two alleged rapes tried separately – starting at 10 a.m. April 4.

Assistant State’s Attorney Alicia Caplan and one of Cleveland’s two lawyers, Gary Johnson, agreed it will take two or three days.

“The reason the trial was pushed out a little bit is the prosecution has trials coming up, I have trials,” Johnson said. “We all have things coming up we have to take care of.”

Cleveland, of the 34700 block of Glidden Road, has been free on $250,000 bond since June 2016. He faces charges of unlawful restraint, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault stemming from incidents involving two separate victims at his parents’ home May 14, 2016, police have said.

Caplan said Jennifer D. Cleveland, 49, also of the 34700 block of Glidden Road and the Kingston Township tax assessor, is Brenton’s mother. Court records show that she has been charged with forgery, official misconduct and failure of a local assessment officer to perform duties.

According to records, on Aug. 25, Jennifer Cleveland filed a request to reduce the assessed value of “her son’s newly bought property” in the 8700 block of South Rood Road in Kingston, and that she also filed two requests to reduce the property tax because of destruction on the property, and signed the former owner’s name.

Those requests were filed Sept. 21 and Oct. 23, according to the records, which show she was charged
Nov. 16 and posted $200 bail on a warrant Tuesday.

According to the township’s assessed values for 2017, the property’s owner is listed as Tanner Cleveland, with a value of $68,926.

She’s due in court at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 29.

Shortly after Brenton Cleveland’s arrest, Tanner Cleveland lashed out on Facebook at people upset over Brenton being allowed to go with his family on an out-of-state vacation, and said his younger brother didn’t rape the girls.

Tanner Cleveland’s comments briefly appeared on the Daily Chronicle’s Facebook page, where the newspaper posted a link to a story about Brenton Cleveland’s court-sanctioned family vacation to Wisconsin while he was free on $25,000 bail.

The posts later were deleted; the Daily Chronicle preserved them with screenshots.

In other posts, the older brother questioned why the victims didn’t come forward sooner, why they allegedly posted photos of themselves having fun at Six Flags Great America a few days after the party, and why they allegedly stayed at the party.

Brenton Cleveland is due in court Jan. 16 for a status hearing, by which time Johnson said he thinks all discovery for his case will be completed “and everybody will have their ducks in a row.”

Johnson declined to comment further on the case, including on why a bench trial was chosen, rather than a jury trial. Cleveland and his supporters declined to comment altogether.

He’s been out on bail since June 2016, when he posted $25,000.

He also has posted $1,000 on a reckless driving charge, and is wearing two bracelets – one from after he was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision and fined $325 after being convicted of underage possession of alcohol Feb. 13. Genoa police said they found Brenton Cleveland with a 12-pack and a case of Bud Light at Liquor ‘n’ Wine in Genoa, according to court records.

Cleveland was fit with an electronic home monitoring bracelet when the state won a motion to increase his bond July 26 after the reckless driving charge was filed.

On May 16, Cleveland’s lawyers, Johnson and R. James Haule, won a motion to sever the cases, and on the same day, the state’s attorney’s office filed a motion to include details from both cases in all the trials. That motion was granted Aug. 23.

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