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State Drops all Fabiano Charges in Day Care Abuse Case

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorneys Victorious in Clearing Child Care Provider

Wearing a blue dress and clutching a red rose, Sandra Fabiano walked out of the Markham courthouse Thursday afternoon "a free woman," still insisting that she and her family had been "violated" by the legal system.

"I am innocent," she said, "and we proved it."

Fabiano, acquitted in March of sexually abusing a child in one of her two Palos Hills day-care centers, appeared Thursday in the south suburban branch of Cook County Circuit Court to learn whether the state intended to pursue other child sex-abuse charges against her. Prosecutors, however, told Associate Judge Frank W. Meekins that they were dropping all charges. In doing so, Assistant State's Attorney. Mary Ellen Cagney, who prosecuted the first case with Richard Burke, said they "cannot subject these children (the alleged victims) to another trial." Nevertheless, Cagney conceded that "we tried our strongest case" and lost.

"I feel like a champagne bottle has been opened," Fabiano said in the courthouse lobby. "I want to walk out of here and never come back." Flanked by her husband, Frank, and her attorney, Stephen Komie, Fabiano decried the investigation into allegations she had sexually molested four girls in her preschools. "I am a free woman now, but I felt that I didn't have any rights throughout the whole thing. I felt I was violated, as was my family and my children."

In March, after a trial that lasted nearly three weeks, a jury found Fabiano innocent on charges that she attacked a 3-year-old girl at the Mother Goose Preschool. It took the jury about three hours to decide the case. On Thursday, numerous relatives and friends of the woman broke into a short burst of applause when Cagney, head of the state's attorney's sexual crimes prosecution division, said the state was dismissing the remaining charges. That decision, Cagney said, was made after consultation with State's Atty. Cecil Partee, who replaced Richard Daley, now mayor of Chicago.

The courtroom was packed, and cheers and applause followed Meekins' declaration that the case was closed. That doesn't mean it will be Fabiano's last day in court, however. Her lawyers have filed a lawsuit in Circuit Court asking that the decision by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to revoke her day-care center license be overturned. In addition, parents of the four girls who allegedly were molested have filed civil suits against Fabiano.

Her suit contends the state agency committed numerous errors in the nearly year-long process that led to the April 17 decision to revoke her license. As she has throughout the investigation, Fabiano on Thursday again insisted that the state has no evidence to justify the charges against her and said it has "mishandled" the entire case, putting her family through a needless ordeal. Cagney denied that. The investigation, she said, "was sensitive to the rights of the family" and was "very thorough."

"She was not locked up," Cagney said. "We were very aware of her rights and those of her family throughout the investigation."

The Fabiano investigation began in late April 1987, when the child in the first trial, who was 3 years old at the time, allegedly complained to her mother that "Teacher Sandy did something to me." Some 141 of the 150 children in the two centers were questioned by investigators. That August, after a three-month inquiry, Fabiano was indicted on 15 felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Nearly 19 months after the indictment, the first trial began, one in which she was charged with three counts of attacking a child. The jury heard from the alleged victim and a second child, who said Fabiano also attacked her. The defense disputed the medical evidence, brought the drug habit of the alleged victim's mother into the case and questioned the competence of the investigation. Fabiano said she would not want to go back into day-care work unless there were laws protecting teachers who deal with young children.

"I would think about getting into a different business," she said. "I wouldn't want to go through this again."

If you are facing serious criminal charges in the state of Illinois, contact the attorneys other attorneys call when they are in trouble. Komie and Associates can be reached at 312-263-2800 and offer free consultations.

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