Particular Training Employee Will get 24 Years in Jail After Responsible Plea to Sexual Assault of Pupil – Cardinal Information
Israel Suaste-Gonzalez, guilty of criminal sexual assault (SOURCE: Lake County State Prosecutor’s Office).
(Lake County, IL) – A man from the Mundelein area was sentenced to 24 years in prison late Tuesday afternoon for sexually abusing a special needs student while employed in the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL).
Israel Suaste-Gonzalez, now 51, was charged in December 2019 of sexually abusing a student as part of SEDOL’s transition program. Lake County District Judge Mark Levitt said that while the defendant appeared to show reflection and remorse, his actions displayed “a special kind of depravity”.
Lake County Attorney Eric Rinehart expressed support for the family and agreed to District Court Judge Mark Levitt’s verdict.
“The perpetrator did incredible harm to this victim and her family. It also violated the community’s trust. The prosecution by our office in this case shows how seriously we take our mission to protect the most vulnerable in our society and we will continue to support those affected by this terrible crime, “said Prosecutor Rinehart. “The court’s long and fair sentence holds the perpetrator accountable and protects Lake County long into the future.”
In July 2021, Suaste-Gonzalez dropped his initial plea for not guilty and pleaded guilty on two counts of criminal sexual assault against a person who was unable to knowingly consent to a plea agreement with prosecutors.
His sentence was only six years below the maximum of 30 years under the agreement. Defense attorney Raymond Kloss had aimed for the minimum of 12 years.
The courtroom was filled with family and friends of both the survivor of the attack and the defendant. In statements about the aftermath of the victim, family members described what the victim’s father described as the “devastation” the accused wrought on his entire family.
The victim’s mother said her daughter was diagnosed with both physical and mental disabilities at a young age.
When she entered the transition program after graduating from high school, she had the mental capabilities of a six- to nine-year-old child, her mother testified. She said that during the two years she was molested by the defendant, she had regressed in some areas and showed signs of anxiety and stress, including stomach pain.
Both parents said they didn’t realize until they got a call from the police what caused the changes in their attitudes and behavior. Both also said they haven’t been the same since the incidents were exposed, struggling with sleep and brain fog.
The victim himself took a stand at the verdict and said, “I couldn’t understand why he did these things to me,” but nonetheless she kept his secret for two years after he told her “he was going to lose his job and I would “Be in big trouble” when she told someone.
When she finally saw “The Dr. Phil Show,” she realized she had to tell her family what happened, family members said.
Speaking to the family and the judge shortly before the sentencing, Suaste-Gonzalez said: “The guilt I feel will go on forever and beyond.” He personally apologized to the woman and her family.
Assistant Attorney Lauren Walker spoke about how far the survivor had come despite her disabilities, “but due to the trauma this defendant caused, there are no promises that she will recover.”
Family members said she was an ambassador for the Illinois Special Olympics but is now suspicious of people she doesn’t know.
Suaste-Gonzalez has been held in the Lake County Jail since 2019 on a $ 2 million bond. His sentence is said to be 85 percent served and the defendant is credited 638 days for the time he has been in prison since his arrest.
The victim was enrolled in SEDOL’s community-based transition program for students ages 18-22 transitioning from SEDOL programs to independent living, SEDOL Superintendent Valerie Donnan said in a letter to parents after Suaste-Gonzalez was indicted .
Suaste-Gonzalez was a paraprofessional member of the program at the time of the incidents, which are believed to have occurred in the 2016-2018 school years. The victim said Suaste-Gonzalez harassed her at school several times during the program.
Walker said Suaste-Gonzalez got the job at SEDOL with a fraudulent Social Security card because he was not a legal resident. Kloss said his client would be deported to Mexico after serving his sentence as a long prison term was not required to protect the community. He also found that the defendant had no previous convictions.
After police notified the district of the investigation, SEDOL officials immediately put Suaste-Gonzalez on leave. Donnan also said his employment in the county was terminated when he was charged.
In addition to the criminal case, the victim’s family has filed a lawsuit against SEDOL based on the case.
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