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Judge Refuses to Allow Elmhurst Man Accused of Sexual Assault to Visit Children on Christmas

Zale Hoddenbach sought a five-hour visit with his five children

A Cook County Circuit Court judge Monday denied the request of an Elmhurst man accused of the sexual assault of a minor to visit his children on Christmas day.

Defense attorneys asked Judge Nicholas Ford to allow Zale Hoddenbach to see his five children for a “chaperoned” visit from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 25, but the judge appeared unconvinced at the proposed arrangement involving Hoddenbach's brother and sister-in-law.

“I’m not going to allow it,” Ford said, suggesting the supervision would not be adequate."

Hoddenbach, 42, is free on $1 million bail while he awaits trial for sexual assault of a teenage girl. The conditions of his bond prohibit him from having any contact with minors, including his own children.

Prosecutors allege that beginning late last year, Hoddenbach lured a 15-year-old girl into helping create pornography. They claim he also had a series of sexual encounters with the girl, now 16, from April through September of this year.

For repeated his denial after Hoddenbach’s lawyers persisted by noting that his children are very young.

“What am I going to do? Send a deputy sheriff over there?” Ford asked. “It’s not going to happen.”

Hoddenbach is a former Boys & Girls Club Counselor. He received national and international media attention several years ago for his work as a “violence interrupter” with CeaseFire, an organization based at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hoddenbach, whose record includes six previous felony convictions, was cited as an example of a former gang member who had turned his life around and was now working to stop inner-city violence.

Hoddenbach’s next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 31.

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