ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A judge handed down a sentence of 45 years in prison June 15 to a Sugar Grove man convicted on three counts of felony predatory criminal sexual assault of a foster child who was living with his family.
Kane County Circuit Court Judge D.J. Tegeler sentenced Noel F. Buhay, 49, to 15 years on each of the three counts, of which he would have to serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.
The charges are all Class X felonies punishable by 6 to 30 years in prison.
Assistant State’s Attorney Lori Schmidt had asked for 20 years on each count – 60 total – while Buhay’s attorney asked for the minimum sentence on each, 18 years total.
Tegeler also ordered Buhay to pay the victim $35,000 in restitution, which he could use for counseling for his psychological trauma over the next three years. Buhay already paid $10,000 in restitution to the victim, the judge said.
A short, slight man, with cropped, thinning hair and black square glasses, Buhay was shackled, clad in bright orange jail clothing over the white sleeves of long underwear.
Though he maintained his innocence throughout the trial, when Tegeler gave him an opportunity to speak before sentencing, Buhay remained silent.
But as he stood to be led back to jail, Buhay turned to his family sitting in the courtroom, smiled and mouthed a kiss to them.
Buhay’s attorney filed court papers asking the judge to reconsider the sentence. Both the reconsideration and setting a date for another trial on allegations from a second victim will be heard Aug. 24, Tegeler said.
The first victim, for whom Buhay was just convicted of assaulting, was an 11-year-old foster child at the time of the crime. He was identified in court documents as R.P. and lived with Buhay first at a home in Aurora, then in Sugar Grove. Buhay was convicted of assaulting him between January 2004 and May 2004.
That foster child, now 23 years old, read a victim impact statement describing the toll Buhay’s abuse and the court system took on his life.
“This man stole my childhood. And by making me wait 12 years for justice, he came back and stole my adulthood,” R.P. said. “As a kid, I had two dreams. To be an architect and to have a family.”
Buhay and his late wife destroyed both of those dreams, when they took him in as a foster child, R.P. said.
Now a tall, husky African-American man, R.P. described losing jobs because of his commitment to go to every court date; of needing three deadbolt locks on his bedroom door in order to feel secure enough to sleep; of suffering from debilitating depression; and of screaming nightmares so traumatic that he wets the bed.
“It is the most degrading thing that I can’t hold my bladder,” he said.
R.P. said he had been on a path to be married, but when charges were filed nearly 10 years after his allegation of abuse, it impacted his life to the point where the wedding was off. And because of being fired from jobs due to his court appearances, he was evicted from his condominium and is now homeless, sleeping either in his car or at friends’ houses, he said.
“Everyone you hold dear is at risk if this man is allowed to take his last breath as a free man,” R.P. said. “If he is ever set free, someone else will get hurt.”
Buhay is facing another trial in which he was accused of sexually assaulting another boy between December 2005 and December 2008, records show.
In that pending trial, Buhay faces 27 counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child – all Class X felonies – among other related charges, Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon’s office stated in a news release.
If convicted, Buhay could face an additional 165-year sentence, the release stated.
The second victim, identified in court papers at J.H., reported the abuse in 2013. J.H., now 17, testified as a witness against Buhay in the trial leading to the current conviction.