Noel Buhay appeared to have it all a decade ago – a good job, a good family life and a nice home on Aurora’s West Side.
It’s in that setting Buhay and his wife brought in a foster son they hoped to adopt. However, Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Lori Schmidt said this idyllic environment for the then-10-year-old boy proved to have a dark side she equated to the "double life" she said Buhay led.
"He portrayed himself one way to his community … to his family, but he was a different person," Schmidt said Tuesday during opening statements in Buhay’s trial in Kane County on sex assault charges. "He’s not the man everyone thought he was."
Buhay, 49, of Sugar Grove, has pleaded not guilty to predatory criminal sexual assault of his one-time foster son, who is now 23 years old.
Schmidt described how the man had lived his early childhood in the care of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and believed his placement with Buhay and his wife, who has since died, would finally be a place he could call home. But, the fun of vacations and stability of this new family life came in a trade off with Buhay’s sexual abuse, Schmidt said. That left the boy confused and made him the "perfect victim for the defendant in this case," she said.
Prosecutors allege Buhay performed sex acts on the boy at bedtime in his room and, at least once, sodomized him between January and May 2004.
Prosecutors did not charge Buhay with assaulting the boy until 2014, only after Buhay was accused in 2013 of nearly 30 counts alleging he sexually abused and assaulted a second boy. Schmidt told jurors Buhay contacted his former foster son during the latter investigation to tell him to stay quiet about his claims. The now 20-year-old man in the second case, which remains pending, is also expected to testify during the trial. Schmidt pointed out the two young men don’t know each other.
"The only thing they have in common is they were sexually assaulted by the defendant," Schmidt claimed.
Buhay’s attorney David Imielski countered Schmidt in his opening statement by suggesting the men will offer "flawed" testimony, and attacked prosecutors for what he called a "shocking lack of evidence in this case." Contrary to Schmidt’s description, Imielski portrayed Buhay as a "paragon of the community" who treated kids, including his nieces and nephews, "like a rock star."
He called on the jury to hold prosecutors to their burden of proof as he said they’ll offer no DNA, fingerprint or medical information connecting Buhay to the alleged assault.
"There’s no corroborating evidence," Imielski said before telling jurors at the end of the case they’ll have "no choice but to find my client not guilty."
Dan Campana is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News