Sex assault trial begins for youth counselor, ‘violence interruptor’
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter February 18, 2014 8:11PM
Zale Hoddenbach, a former Logan Square Boys & Girls Club counselor and popular CeaseFire "violence interrupter," was found guilty if raping a teenager who came to him seeking job advice. | Provided
Updated: February 18, 2014 8:19PM
The 15-year-old was looking for a job.
He allegedly proposed an unorthodox way she could make some cash: take pictures wearing lingerie or of others having sex.
And with that 2010 exchange at the Logan Square Boys & Girls Club, Zale Hoddenbach — then a youth counselor and a CeaseFire “violence interrupter” — blackmailed and raped girl for the next year or so, Cook County prosecutors said at the opening of his trial Tuesday.
The alleged victim, now 19, said she took Hoddenbach up on his initial offer and snapped photos of him and another woman having sex for $200.
What the teenager didn’t expect was for the woman to start fondling her as Hoddenbach got behind the camera and clicked away, capturing the sex act.
Months later in the spring of 2011, Hoddenbach, a married father of five, allegedly asked the teenager to perform a sex act at a home he owned in the city.
“He told me to stop acting like a child. . . . He said he would put those pictures online,” said the teenager, now a married mom.
The woman said she only continued the sexual relationship with Hoddenbach because she didn’t want her parents or classmates to find the compromising pictures of her on the Internet.
“I had no choice. Every time I said, ‘No,’ he would threaten me. I was scared of him posting the pictures.”
The teenager, who went to authorities after Hoddenbach allegedly made her have sex with another man, conceded that he paid for her gym shoes, lingerie and a tattoo on her lower back that reads, “live, love and laugh.”
But she denied she lied about her age and presented herself to Hoddenbach as being 18.
Defense attorney William Murphy argued that his client told the teenager he couldn’t have an erection because of a penile fracture he suffered in an accident. Murphy also said it was the teenager who would invite him to watch her and others have sex for money.
Another of Hoddenbach’s alleged victims, now 18, also testified Tuesday that he showed her videos of him receiving oral sex and made her perform a sex act in his Boys & Girls Club office in 2011.
Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Ciaccia also told jurors that a relative also accused Hoddenbach of molesting her when she was in high school.
However, that woman, now 25, denied that Hoddenbach ever sexually attacked her when she took the stand in Judge Nicholas Ford’s courtroom Tuesday.
Hoddenbach, 45, of Elmhurst, is facing criminal sexual, assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and child pornography charges.
He is awaiting trial in the case involving the second teenager.
Both women filed a civil suit against Hoddenbach and the Boys & Girls Club last year.
Hoddenbach, a former gang member, was featured for his CeaseFire work in the New York Times magazine and BBC radio in 2008.