Judge finds Harvard man guilty of sexual abuse of a child second time this year

J. Santos-Nova-Rivera, 37, found guilty of same charge involving another minor girl earlier this year

Inset of J. Santos Nova-Rivera in front of Northwest Herald file of the McHenry County courthouse.

A McHenry County judge convicted a Harvard man Thursday of sexually assaulting and abusing a minor girl, the second child he is convicted of abusing this year.

J. Santos Nova-Rivera, 37, was found guilty on two counts of criminal sexual assault, Class 1 felonies, and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Class 2 felonies.

He faces sentencing ranges of four to 15 years in prison for the Class 1 felonies and three to seven years in prison on the Class 2 felonies when sentenced Oct. 7.

He chose to have his case heard last month before McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge in a bench trial rather than having his case heard by a jury.

In April, Coppedge found the former landscaper guilty of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against a child younger than 13 in a case involving a different girl. He was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison, to be served at 50%, and will be required to register as a sex offender for life.

He will serve his sentence in the second case after he completes the first sentence.

In closing statements last month following a two-day bench trial, Assistant State’s Attorney Ashur Youash said the girls’ testimony – which included similar details of how he had allegedly touched them – was consistent.

“Judge, everything they said was consistent, no confusion, no uncertainty,” Youash said in closing arguments last month. “Their testimony could not be more clear” of what they said he did “when they were alone with him.”