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Local News

Double jeopardy appeal denied

OTTAWA – The Illinois Appellate Court has decided a Braidwood man did not face “double jeopardy” when he was convicted of molesting an 8-year-old girl. Three appellate judges unanimously upheld the decision in Will County Circuit Court to reject Peter A. Ventsias’ motion to dismiss a predatory criminal sexual assault conviction. The decision was issued Tuesday. Ventsias, was charged with fondling the victim in August 2005. In December 2007, he was found guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault, but not guilty of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in a jury trial.

When that verdict was overturned two years later, Ventsias agreed to let prosecutors charge him with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and entered a blind guilty plea. But the plea was vacated by Judge Richard Schoenstedt when prosecutors filed a motion to “update the charge,” according to Ventsias’ appellate brief.

Ventsias was retried and found guilty again. Ventsias’ appellate attorney Jeff Tomczak argued his right not to be tried again was violated. But Assistant Will County State’s Attorney Colleen Griffin wrote double jeopardy would have occurred if Ventsias had entered a plea to the sexual assault charge.

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