Two Jehovah’s Witnesses elders in Crystal Lake convicted of failing to report a child who was being sexually assaulted have been sentenced to court supervision and community service.
Michael Penkava, 72, of the 0-100 block of Franklin Avenue in Crystal Lake, and Colin Scott, 88, of the 300 block of Krenz Avenue in Cary, were both charged with one count of violating reporting provisions, a Class A misdemeanor.
Court documents allege that Penkava and Scott, who were mandated reporters, knew of a child who was being sexually assaulted and abused but failed to report it.
Arturo Hernandez-Pedraza, 44, of Crystal Lake, was found guilty in October 2019 of over a dozen sex crimes against the young girl.
Prosecutors said that Hernandez-Pedraza sexually assaulted the girl, who is now an adult, weekly and sometimes even daily for over 13 years, dating back to 2005.
Hernandez-Pedraza threatened to kill the victim, her mother and her brother if she told anyone about the assaults, prosecutors said.
The girl told her mother about the assaults when she was 6 years old.
The church that she went to with her mother, Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Crystal Lake, was informed of the allegations as well but they also did not report it to police, prosecutors said.
The girl reported the abuse again in 2018 to the church and Penkava finally reported it to Crystal Lake police, who opened an investigation.
Hernandez-Pedraza was sentenced to 50 years in prison and required to register for life as a sex offender upon his release.
Penkava and Scott were both Jehovah’s Witnesses elders and mandated reporters.
The two were found guilty on March 18 of one count of violating reporting provisions, a Class A misdemeanor.
On Friday, McHenry County Judge Mark Gerhardt sentenced Penkava and Scott each to one year of supervision, 10 hours of public service and ordered them to pay over $1,000 in court fines and fees.
Prosecutors had asked Gerhardt to sentence the men to 12 days in jail and 30 months of community service, the Northwest Herald reported.
Penkava said during the sentencing hearing that he did not believe he had to report the abuse to authorities after receiving advice in 2006 from Jehovah’s Witnesses world headquarters in New York.
“I had earnest trust and faith in God and the judicial committee,” Penkava said, the Herald reported. “I never acted in bad faith. I truly believed I was following the law of Illinois. I am so sorry for any suffering in this utterly sad situation. I never became a conspirator to cover up abuse of a child.”