Prosecutors Call Sex Offender’s Arrest ‘Troubling’
History of allegations similar to new charges against James Bonafide.
James Bonafide vowed things would be different after he was arrested in 2007.
Bonafide had been charged that year with twice fondling himself in front of children outside two Elmhurst schools, Sandburg Middle and Hawthorne Elementary. He pleaded guilty to unlawful loitering by a sex offender and was awaiting sentencing in March 2008, when he wrote a letter from jail to the judge overseeing the case.
“It has been the first time I have been incarcerated. It has definitely had an impact on me and I never again want to repeat this experience,” Bonafide wrote. “I can’t change the past, but I’m very serious about my future and I’m truly ready to put an end to this cycle.”
Bonafide was given 180 days in prison and 2 1/2 years of probation, which he completed successfully in 2011. It would be about a year before Bonafide, a registered sex offender, again found himself in trouble.
Elmhurst police arrested 39-year-old Bonafide at his Hillside home on Aug. 31 after a witness saw him approach two young female students at Timothy Christian School. He is charged with disorderly conduct and loitering within 500 feet of a school.
Prosecutors on Monday said Bonafide parked near the school around 10 a.m. that day, went up to the girls, each 8 years old, and made a lewd comment to them. The witness confronted Bonafide about the incident, who claimed the girls had approached him, but also said he was having tire trouble. The witness got Bonafide’s license plate before he drove off.
Police tracked the plates to Bonafide in Hillside, where he again referenced tire trouble for being near the school. Police found nothing wrong with his car, according to prosecutors.
Additional details of Bonafide’s arrest came during a bond-reduction hearing Monday, where Judge Ronald Kleeman dropped Bonafide’s bail amount from $400,000 to $99,999. Kleeman seemed surprised at the original bail being set so high on a low felony, but he commented that Bonafide’s criminal history included several charges that “seem to be substantially similar” to his latest arrest.
Bonafide’s sex offender registry profile indicates Cook County convictions for sexual exploitation of a child and public indecency. Although it is unclear when those incidents took place, the registry notes he was 29 at the time of the offense.
DuPage County court records show Bonafide with a 1998 disorderly conduct case, for which he received conditional discharge—a less stringent type of court supervision. Details of that case weren’t immediately clear.
Police in Villa Park arrested Bonafide after he shouted an obscene comment at a woman in late 2006. He received court supervision in that case.
And then there were the arrests in March 2007, after the incidents at Sandburg Middle School and Hawthorne Elementary.
By the time Bonafide wrote his letter seeking “mercy and leniency” from the judge, he had spent nine months in jail, including one month in Cook County. He said he spent time working with a food pantry and was a churchgoer. Bonafide also mentioned he was the sole provider for his wife and son, who was born in February 2007. Bonafide lamented his jail stay had cost him the first year of his son’s life.
“I don’t want to miss any more time with my child,” he wrote.
Hasn't Made Bail
As for bail in his current case, his attorney said Bonafide only had $5,000—not enough to get him out of jail. If he is released, he will be placed on home confinement.
He returns to court Oct. 1.