A Crystal Lake man was sentenced to 45 years in prison Thursday after being found guilty of sexually assaulting and abusing a young female relative.
A jury convicted Arturo Hernandez-Pedraza, 42, in October of all 14 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, predatory criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse, sexual relations within families and domestic battery charges filed against him.
Hernandez-Pedraza’s defense attorney wasn’t available for comment Thursday.
The allegations lodged against Hernandez-Pedraza date back as far as 2005. Over the course of more than a decade, Hernandez-Pedraza continued to rape and sexually abuse the girl, prosecutors said.
Leaders at the man's church had been aware of the allegations for more than a decade, the Northwest Herald previously has reported.
Although an elder from Hernandez-Pedraza’s congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses tried to invoke his right as a religious leader to not testify, ultimately he was required to answer questions about actions the congregation took after learning about the sexual abuse.
The Kingdom Hall elder, Michael Penkava, testified that he learned about the accusations in July 2006, and shortly afterward, church leaders warned parishioners not to leave their children alone with Hernandez-Pedraza.
The accusations weren’t reported until 2018, however. That’s when the girl told church elders the abuse hadn’t stopped, prosecutors have said.