Originally Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012, 2:11 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 27, 2012, 5:40 pm

Colona man sentenced to 14 life terms for sexual assaults

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By Lisa Hammer, rlhammer@qconline.com

CAMBRIDGE -- Henry County Circuit Court Judge Charles "Casey" Stengel on Thursday sentenced Justin Bealer, 28, of Colona, to 14 consecutive sentences of natural life in prison for 14 counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.

Mr. Bealer also was sentenced to five years in prison on numerous other counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child. He was convicted in two separate trials of offenses against multiple victims.

The youngest victim was just 4 at the time of the assaults in 2010.

"It's clear for the court that you're a pedophile, and clear that society has to be protected from pedophiles," Judge Stengel said as he imposed the sentences.

Defense attorney Marc Wolfe attempted to cite case law indicating Mr. Bealer would be eligible for minimum six-year terms for Class X felonies. But Judge Stengel said it was clear the law meant for the crime to be subject to natural life in prison.

Henry County State's Attorney Terry Patton said Mr. Bealer assaulted three victims multiple times over a five-year period, abusing their trust and taking advantage of their youth and immaturity.

After the sentencing, Mr. Patton talked about the many hours law enforcement put into the case, saying that, as often as he was calling them with requests, he was surprised they hadn't begun blocking his calls.

Davenport police officer William Hurt, who reviewed Mr. Bealer's computer, and state police investigators Anthony Romeo and Corey Peck always dropped what they were doing and got the answers he needed, Mr. Patton said.

"My only regret is that he only has one natural life that he can serve, because he deserves it for what he did to all these girls," Mr. Patton said. He added the girls deserved the most credit.

"It was incredible that they were able to go through with that and did not give up," he said.

The mother of one of the victims said she was very happy with the prosecutorial team.

"I'm just very happy that it's over and no one else is going to get hurt, because he would have kept on doing it," she said.

Prior to Thursday's sentencing, the judge denied the defense's motion for new trials.