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Newly-disclosed victim allowed to testify in abuse case

Wallgren trial still on schedule to begin Oct. 5

Jeffery G. Wallgren
Jeffery G. Wallgren

PRINCETON — Jurors in an upcoming trial against a Princeton man accused of sexual assault on a child will hear from a newly-disclosed prior victim, the judge ruled Monday.

Jeffery G. Wallgren, 48, is charged with two counts of predatory sexual assault of a child, Class X felonies, punishable by up to 6-30 years in prison if convicted.

Wallgren stands accused of an escalating series of sexual violations to a minor over an approximately four-year period beginning when the child was 8-9 years old. Wallgren is alleged to having abused two children, at the same ages and time frames, however, the charges at this time pertain to one child.

Bureau County State's Attorney Geno Caffarini and Wallgren's attorney Eric May have argued in several pre-trial hearings over what testimony can be introduced before the jury at trial. Some of the evidence Caffarini wants to present details the history of the abuse, but May insists the testimony should be limited to the one act that led to Wallgren being charged because additional testimony about past behavior is prejudicial to his client.

The victories have been split so far, with Judge Marc Bernabei denying entry into evidence a video-taped interview of one of the children conducted by Braveheart Child Advocacy Center and barring an interview with a counselor working for the Princeton Police Department.

Bernabei will allow the child to testify at which time the information disclosed becomes fair game for the sides to pursue.

In Monday's hearing, Caffarini told the judge two more victims have come forward with claims that Wallgren in the past sexually abused them and he wants the jury to hear their stories because of the similarity in the experiences they reported.

One victim, now an adult, will be allowed to testify because of what Bernabei calls "striking similarity" in their stories, however, testimony from the second victim will not be introduced because it does not present a similar pattern of behavior.

Wallgren is held in Bureau County Jail on $300,000 bond, 10% of which must be allowed for his release.

He is scheduled for trial Monday, Oct. 5, and will next appear in court Thursday, Oct. 1.

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