Highland News Leader

Man who videotaped teen in restroom now charged with alleged sexual assault

Eric B. Liening
Eric B. Liening Provided photo

A Highland man who pleaded guilty two years ago to unlawfully video recording a teenage boy in a local bowling alley restroom is now facing charges that he allegedly sexually abused an even younger boy at the same bowing alley 18 years ago.

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons charged Eric B. Liening, 50, on March 3 with one count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, a Class X felony, and two counts aggravated criminal sexual abuse, Class 2 felonies.

Liening is accused of assaulting an 11-year-old boy at the Poplar Junction Lanes & Lounge in Highland between January 1999 and January 2001.

“In our relentless pursuit of justice for victims of predatory crimes, sometimes it takes time for the truth to come to light,” Gibbons said in a news release. “Fortunately, the law allows us to secure charges for such serious offenses, regardless of the passage of time.”

Following an investigation by the Highland Police Department, charges were filed through the Children’s Justice Division within the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“After many years of the abuse that was occurring, (the victim) came to the police department and disclosed what was happening,” said Highland police detective Christopher Flake.

Liening pleaded guilty in 2015 to one count of unauthorized video recording for using his cell phone to record a 16-year-old boy in a stall at the Poplar Junction Lanes & Lounge. He was sentenced to two years probation in that case and ordered to seek mental treatment, according to Madison County Court records.

Flake said Liening had formerly worked part-time at Poplar Junction.

“Liening helped out at the bowling alley, doing maintenance and odd jobs. He wasn’t a full-time employee,” Flake said.

The investigation remains open, and anyone with additional information, or who may have been a victim of Liening, is asked to contact the Highland Police Department at 618-654-2366.

The maximum penalty for a Class X felony is six to 60 years in prison; maximum for a Class 2 felony is three to seven years in prison.

Liening was taken into custody without incident, Flake said. His bond was set at $500,000 by Circuit Judge Kyle Napp.