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Crime & Courts

Jury finds Botello guilty in child sex assault case

Botello did not react as the jury returned a verdict of guilty Friday.
Botello did not react as the jury returned a verdict of guilty Friday.

SYCAMORE – A DeKalb man faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty on all charges related to sexually assaulting two young girls Friday after a weeklong trial.

Carlos A. Botello, 27, was first charged with predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child three years ago. The two girls' mother testified this week that she learned of the abuse from them on New Year's Eve 2016 and that the most recent abuse had occurred on Christmas Eve 2016.

In closing statements, Botello's defense attorney Caroline Hernandez argued that the event had not happened and that the girls had been coached to tell their story. She pointed to testimony jurors heard Friday that forensic interviews with the girls – videos of which jurors had seen during the trial – were fraught with errors and poor questions.

Michelle Potter, a licensed professional counselor, was there to assess the technique of the forensic interviewer who first interviewed the victims.

Potter, while reviewing the videoed interviews of the two girls, pointed out several instances of leading questions or missed opportunities for more information from Donna Moulton, the interviewer with the Child Advocacy Center where the girls were interviewed in 2017. Moulton testified Wednesday and Thursday.

For example, Potter testified that Moulton was asking "forced choice" questions that gave the child options to choose from rather than open-ended responses.

"They did not elicit a response that gave us correct information," Potter testified.

She said that when adults ask children questions, children assume adults know the answers already. Instead, Potter testified, Moulton should have asked questions with the goal of getting more information.

Another error she testified to was Moulton did not follow up on certain lines of questioning, trying to get more detailed information from the girls.

It wasn't enough to sway the jury, however, which deliberated for less than two hours before reaching its verdict.

"The courage and clarity of those two little girls really came through," said First Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Klein. "We very much appreciate the attention the jury gave to the case."

Gregory Walker, one of Botello's attorneys, said that they would file post-trial motions and then appeal.

Following the verdict, Botello was taken back to DeKalb County Jail.

Botello is next due in court on March 4.

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