A La Salle man facing up to 60 years in prison for multiple sex charges has decided to try his case before a judge rather than a jury of 12.
Michael E. Thomas, 57, appeared Thursday in La Salle County Circuit Court and advised Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia that he would like to proceed by bench trial, leaving it to Raccuglia to decide whether he is guilty of four felonies.
After Thomas waived his constitutional right to a trial by jury, Raccuglia scheduled a bench trial for Tuesday, Sept. 27.
Bench trials are, for defense attorneys, often the preferred option when a defendant is charged with salacious offenses that could inflame a jury but not necessarily a seasoned trial judge.
Thomas was charged last summer with indecent solicitation of a child and sexual exploitation of a child after an incident at Hegeler Park in La Salle. Prosecutors later charged him with child pornography and predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, both Class X felonies.