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Former Cook County resident enters plea for sex crimes against minors

Cook County Law Enforcement Center - Photo by Rhonda Silence
Cook County Law Enforcement Center - Photo by Rhonda Silence

A former Cook County resident who moved last year during his senior year of high school returned to Grand Marais Oct. 25 to enter a plea on multiple felony charges of criminal sexual conduct against minors.
 
The courtroom was packed with local residents during the courtroom proceedings. Among those present were the young women involved in the case and their parents, grandparents and friends. Judge Michael Cuzzo explained that the law tries to protect the identity of young people, so victims involved would be referred to by number. 
 
During the public portion of the courtroom proceedings, three counts against the respondent, who is now 18, were dismissed. These include counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, third degree criminal sexual conduct and fourth degree sexual conduct. These counts were dismissed as part of what Cuzzo described as a “global agreement.”

Additional crimes, which are non-public under the rules of the court, were a combination of guilty pleas and dismissals pursuant to the settlement. As those charges involve minors, they are not public under court rules and statute, therefore no further information was provided.
 
To begin the open portion of the hearing, Judge Cuzzo said it was his understanding that the parties reached an agreement and  the respondent was entering a guilty plea on the one public charge, which occurred when he was 16 years old.
 
Cuzzo asked the respondent  if he understood everything in the plea petition. The respondent, present in court with his parents and attorneys, acknowledged that he did.

Cuzzo then reviewed the potential outcome of the plea agreement.  He said the respondent's case falls under extended juvenile jurisdiction, which means an adult sentence would be imposed, but stayed on the condition that the respondent successfully complete a probation which lasts until his 21st birthday. If the respondent complies with, and completes all the terms and conditions of probation, he will not serve the adult sentence.
 
Final sentencing in the case is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Dec. 10.