Former youth counselor convicted of raping teenager
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter February 20, 2014 10:02PM
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: March 22, 2014 6:48AM
Zale Hoddenbach was affectionately known as “Mr. Z” to the teenagers he counseled at the Logan Square Boys & Girls Club.
On the streets, he was a respected CeaseFire “violence interrupter” who gave lectures on the perils of gun and gang violence.
But Cook County jury branded Hoddenbach as someone more depraved Thursday night after convicting him of raping a girl who sought his help in landing a job when she was 15.
Hoddenbach, 45, was found guilty of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges. He was acquitted of child pornography.
The victim, now a 19-year-old married mother, testified that in 2010, she agreed to take pictures of Hoddenbach and a woman having sex for $200.
She didn’t know she would be part of a salacious photo shoot. The woman unexpectedly started fondling her, and Hoddenbach started clicking away on his cellphone and digital camera, she testified.
Hoddenbach used those photos as a bargaining chip for the next year, threatening to post them on the Internet if the teenager didn’t give in to his sexual advances at various locations, including a suburban Sybaris, prosecutors said.
The Elmhurst man told the girl she was his “little bitch” and even forced her to have sex with his friend, Assistant State’s Attorney Denise Loiterstein said in her closing arguments. “He maintained power and control over threats and manipulation.”
Hoddenbach’s lawyer tried to discredit the teenager, saying she “masqueraded” as an adult and brazenly told Hoddenbach that she and a friend had hoped to make cash cleaning rich men’s homes in their lingerie.
Hoddenbach, who also took the stand, suffers from erectile dysfunction and was infatuated by the teenager who had invited him to watch her engage in sex acts with others and made him buy her a car, defense attorney William Murphy said.
But Assistant State’a Attorney Elizabeth Ciaccia told jurors to remember the tearful testimony of the teenager and that of a second victim who also said Hoddenbach made her perform a sex act in his Boys & Girls Club office in 2011.
Ciaccia dismissed Murphy’s suggestion taht Hoddenbach wasn’t unable to perform sexually, pointing that he impregnated his wife around the same time the teenager said she was attacked.
“What an unlucky guy. His penis doesn’t work and the girl he chose was under 18. . . . We know it’s working somewhat,” the prosecutor said sarcastically.
Hoddenbach faces 18 to 90 years in prison. He’s also awaiting trial in the case involving the second teenager.
Both women filed a joint civil suit against Hoddenbach and the Boys & Girls Club last year.