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Arson suspect can see therapist

Judge bars boy from going to church group

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 5:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 5:15 a.m. CDT

STERLING – The 16-year-old charged in the downtown Prophetstown fire will be allowed to attend weekly counseling sessions with a therapist in Wisconsin, Judge Bill McNeal decided Tuesday.

That is an extension of conditions previously set by McNeal in an agreement for the boy to return home to live with his mother in Wisconsin, where he resides on electronic monitoring.

The boy’s attorney, Mark Holldorf, also asked that he be allowed to leave the house on Tuesday evenings to attend his church’s youth group. McNeal denied that request.

“You know how seriously I take this case,” McNeal said. “I’m not going to open the doors to let you do anything you wish.”

McNeal said he saw the boy’s visits to a counselor as being beneficial, and that at some point, he might let the boy attend a youth group as well. “But not today,” the judge said.

Before visiting his father in Prophetstown for the summer, the 16-year-old regularly attended both, his mother said.

The 12-year-old half brother charged in the fire remains at his father’s home in Prophetstown, attending school through the Safe Schools Program of the Whiteside County Regional Office of Education.

The two boys are charged with arson, residential arson, and 14 counts of criminal damage to property, all felonies.

Police say the boys set fire to paper and cardboard in a recycling bin behind Cindy Jean’s restaurant about 2:30 a.m. July 15; the fire quickly spread in Prophetstown’s historic downtown, destroying eight buildings and damaging two others.

Their next court appearance is set for Nov. 19.

Sauk Valley Media is not identifying the boys because they are charged as juveniles.

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