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Bond Set at $1 Million for Elmhurst Man Accused of Sexual Assault

Zale Hoddenbach is not allowed to have contact with any minors, including his own children. “The allegation is too onerous,” Judge Nicholas Ford said.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge set bond at $1 million Monday morning for an Elmhurst man accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Prosecutors wanted to remain in the Cook County Jail, where he has been held for nearly a month after a judge for allegedly violating the conditions upon which he was released after posting $150,000 bail. Assistant State’s Attorney Kathleen Muldoon said Hoddenbach, 42, had responded to an email sent to him by a female minor, in violation of a court order prohibiting from having any contact with minors while he awaits trial.

“The order … was extraordinarily clear,” she told Judge Nicholas Ford. “No contact meant no contact whatsoever.”

Hoddenbach’s attorney, Bill Murphy, acknowledged that his client had received an email from the girl and responded to it. He characterized the email as an inquiry about the sexual assault charge. He said Hoddenbach merely responded that there was nothing to the allegations, that they were the result of “some girl trying to get money.”

Prosecutors allege that Hoddenbach gave a teen-age girl cash, clothing and shoes in exchange for sexual encounters that took place between April and September at a house in Chicago and at suburban motels.

Muldoon said the girl met Hoddenbach in the spring of 2009, when she was in eighth grade. Last year, according to the prosecution, the girl approached Hoddenbach, a former Boys & Girls Club counselor, seeking job advice. Hoddenbach allegedly told her she could make money by participating in the creation of pornography. Shortly thereafter, Muldoon said the girl, then 15, took photographs of Hoddenbach having sex with an unknown female.

“The female then fondled the victim’s breasts and the defendant took pictures of that,” Muldoon said.

At subsequent meetings, Muldoon said Hoddenbach engaged in “numerous acts of sexual penetration” of the victim.

Muldoon said Hoddenbach also directed the girl, now 16, to take lewd photos of herself with her cell phone and send them to him, which she did. When the girl decided she no longer wanted to have contact with the defendant, Muldoon said Hoddenbach “threated to disseminate the photos.”

In arguing that Hoddenbach should remain locked up pending trial, Muldoon cited his long criminal history, which includes six felony convictions, beginning in December 1988 when he was sentenced to five years in prison for delivery of a controlled substance. She said he also has served time for aggravated battery, residential burglary, felony theft and armed robbery.

Murphy responded that those cases were well in the past, and that Hoddenbach has since turned his life around and now works to stop violence with the CeaseFire organization, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“He has been a perfect citizen for 13 years, which is quite an accomplishment,” Murphy said.

He noted that Hoddenbach was featured in a 2008 New York Times Magazine article for his work as a “violence interrupter.”

“He’s got a reputation that’s been damaged seriously,” by the allegations against him, Murphy said. “I need him out on bond at this time.”

Murphy suggested that the email at the center of Monday’s hearing may have been sent “under the volition of the Chicago Police Department.” He argued that the court order was meant to prohibit contact initiated by the defendant.

“I receive emails every day that I don’t respond to,” Ford countered.

Murphy also contended that contact referred to touching or being in close proximity to another person.

Muldoon said she had recently received information from “a concerned citizen,” who reported that Hoddenbach, who is married and has five children, had been spotted transporting children to school.

“It is true that he has a number of children,” Murphy said. “His children love him and are very concerned.”

Murphy asked that the judge amend Hoddenbach’s bond restrictions to allow him to have contact with his children.

“I do believe he’s entitled to bond,” Ford said.

However, Ford said he would not allow Hoddenbach to have contact with any minors, including his own children.

“The allegation is too onerous,” Ford said.

The next court date for the case has been set for Dec. 19.

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