MARION COUNTY — A 17-year-old Salem man filed an open plea of guilty Wednesday in Marion County Court to sexually assaulting a 10-month-old baby girl in his mother’s care.
Justin Atteberry was charged in December with Class X felony aggravated criminal sexual assault resulting in bodily harm, after Salem police and the Department of Children and Family Services conducted an investigation into injuries that sent the baby girl first to Salem Township Hospital and then to Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
According to State’s Attorney Matt Wilzbach, Atteberry’s mother was an at-home childcare provider in Salem, and the victim was one of her clients.
Atteberry admitted during a videotaped interview to performing acts on the baby using a Matchbox type car that resulted in the injuries noted at the hospitals.
According to Wilzbach, although Atteberry is a juvenile, he had to be charged as an adult based upon the Juvenile Court Act requirements, and because of the Act, he is not entitled to privacy rights afforded juveniles.
An open plea of guilt does not provide the defendant with guaranteed sentence limits. Atteberry pleaded guilty to a Class X felony which is punishable by between 6 and 30 years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced November 16, following the completion of a presentencing investigation. The hearing is expected to take all afternoon.