An appeals court has overturned a judge’s decision and ordered an Antioch man released pending trial after he was accused of sexually abusing a young wheelchair-bound child.
John G. Finch, 72, of Antioch, was charged in October with one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child, a Class 2 felony.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Dino Katris said during one of the initial court hearings in the case that children and parents were invited over to Finch’s unincorporated Antioch residence for a dog’s birthday party on February 4, 2023.
One of the children, who was under 13 and is wheelchair-bound, reported she was inappropriately touched by Finch, who is not a family member of hers.
The victim and a second child were alone in a room eating ice cream when Finch entered with a beer in his hand, Katris said.
Katris said the two children reported that Finch told them they were “cute and sexy” and were going to “get all of the boys in school.”
Katris said Finch then rubbed the victim’s shoulders, slid his hand under her bra and inappropriately touched her.
The second child who was in the room witnessed and remembered Finch pulling down the child’s bra strap, Katris said.
Katris said messages between Finch and the child showed he complimented her and gave her gifts.
Finch’s attorney, Stephen Simonian, said his client has worked at the same company for over 40 years and is a grandfather of five.
Simonian, who called the case weak, said Finch cooperated “1000%” with investigators since the investigation by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office began.
Finch does not have a criminal history, the attorney added.
Prosecutors filed a petition to detain Finch pre-trial, arguing he was a threat to the safety of the victim and other children.
Lake County Judge Theodore Potkonjak granted the petition to hold Finch in the Lake County Jail pending trial in early October.
Finch appealed the ruling to the Illinois Second District Appellate Court, which issued an order last month.
The appeals court ruled the trial court “abused its discretion” in entering an order detaining Finch and denying his pre-trial release.
“The burden was on the State to present the evidence in clear and convincing fashion that the defendant was a threat and in this case, they failed to do so,” the appeals court said in its ruling.
The appeals court remanded the case back to Lake County and ordered a hearing on conditions of pre-trial release.
During that hearing, prosecutors said they would not be appealing the appeals court’s ruling overturning the detention order.
Potkonjak released Finch from the Lake County Jail and ordered him to have no contact with the victim or any children.
Finch was also ordered to not consume alcohol or drugs and be on a 24-hour curfew.
A case management hearing is scheduled for February 26.