Metro-East News

Judge charged with felony sexual abuse and intimidation, plus two misdemeanors

Judge Ron Duebbert goes before grand jury in July

He met with his attorneys and Illinois special prosecutors before entering the grand jury room at the St. Clair County Building on Friday. He exited five minutes later.
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He met with his attorneys and Illinois special prosecutors before entering the grand jury room at the St. Clair County Building on Friday. He exited five minutes later.

Circuit Judge Ronald Duebbert was charged Monday with felony criminal sexual abuse and intimidation plus two misdemeanors alleging in part that he grabbed a client’s genitals and offered to reduce a legal fee by $100 if the man would perform a sex act on him, according to court documents filed with the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk.

“I hope that you have a very nice day but of course I can’t comment,” Duebbert said when reached at the courthouse. Court documents state he is not in custody. His attorney, Daniel Fultz, declined to comment.

Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson said a judge outside the five-county 20th Circuit will be brought in to hear the charges against the 55-year-old Duebbert.

Count 1 of the felony charges brought by special prosecutors from the State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office office alleges that on Nov. 22, 2016, Duebbert “committed the offense of intimidation” against his client when he “communicated a threat to expose the victim to hatred, contempt or ridicule ... to insure that the victim would never tell anyone” that Duebbert allegedly offered to reduce his legal fee in return for oral sex.

Count 2 of the felony charges state that Duebbert “knowingly committed an act of sexual conduct” in that he reached into the man’s shorts and “touched the victim’s penis through the victim’s underwear for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.”

The misdemeanor counts allege that Duebbert committed battery in that he “made physical contact in an insulting or provoking nature with the victim,” and committed the offense of “solicitation of a sexual act,” by offering he would “knock $100 off his legal bill if the man would perform an act of oral sex on the judge.”

In October, the 25-year-old man filed an affidavit in court as part of his effort to withdraw a guilty plea to felony fleeing and eluding a few weeks. He alleged that before Duebbert won election as a judge he offered to reduce a legal fee in return for oral sex. The man’s affidavit stated that the encounter took place in Duebbert’s Belleville law office.

The man’s attorney, Alex Enyart, declined to comment.

Duebbert was ordered to appear in court Dec. 1 to answer the charges.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, who is not involved in the criminal charges against Duebbert, has filed complaints against the judge with the state Judicial Inquiry Board. Such complaints are never made public but were filed on the same day Kelly asked that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate the possibility of criminal charges. Gleeson approved the request for a special prosecutor.

The special prosecutors, David Neal and David Robinson, could not be reached. Illinois Supreme Court regulations limit what any prosecutor can publicly comment on during a prosecution. Both prosecutors were already working on a request brought by the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis for possible charges of obstructing justice. Those charges were never filed.

The request by the Major Case Squad detectives involved the Dec. 30 shooting death of Carl Silas of Belleville, whom police alleged was killed by David Fields, 20, Duebbert’s former roommate. Duebbert’s cell phone records, obtained by police though a judicial search warrant, found that the judge and Fields exchanged nine text messages on Dec. 29, the day before Silas was killed.

In 1999, Duebbert was charged with misdemeanor battery on a complaint from an 18-year-old man that Duebbert had fondled him. According to News-Democrat stories, the young man was in the courthouse facing a burglary charge when he allegedly was fondled. Records of the case no longer appear in online county legal records and may have been removed because all records of the case were expunged by judicial order.

St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson discusses Circuit Judge Ronald Duebbert.

Duebbert, a Republican, defeated longtime circuit judge and former county prosecutor John Baricevic in the November 2016 election. Gleeson stopped Duebbert from hearing court cases after it was publicly revealed that he had lived with Fields, a felon with a violent felony history. He remains in his current administrative position, with pay, but only has access to public files.

Fields, who moved out of the Duebbert residence on Powder Mill Road, has pleaded not guilty of the first-degree murder charge involving Silas.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk

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