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Molestation charge is filed nine years after alleged incident

Age of child allows prosecutors more time

May 13, 2006 | It may be the first time in St. Clair County that a criminal sexual assault has been charged over nine years after the crime happened.

Arciles "A.J." Lucas Jr., 37, faces aggravated criminal sexual assault charges and criminal sexual assault charges for molesting a then 4-year-old boy.

"I'm very proud of the investigation that was done that allowed this case to be charged," Caseyville Police Chief J.D. Roth said.

Lucas molested the boy, with whom he lived from November 1996 to March 1997, at the family's Caseyville home.

At the time, the boy wasn't able to provide an adequate statement to police or Illinois Department of Children and Family Services caseworkers.

Recently, the victim, now 14, sought mental health counseling and revealed the abuse, Roth said. Detective Steve Epps then began investigating the allegations.

The statute of limitations expires on felony cases in three years, but a provision in the law allows the statute to be extended because the victim is still a minor, said Wayne LaFave, a University of Illinois law professor.

But such cases are difficult to prosecute because physical evidence usually doesn't exist, LaFave said.

"It's rare that cases like this are charged, but it does happen," State's Attorney Robert Haida said.

Haida declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

"I think that it sends an important message that crimes of this type effect victims for the rest of their lives, so prosecution is important," Roth said.

Lucas remains in the county jail with bail set at $300,000.

If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

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