By all accounts, Bruce Krebs was an active member of his community. An accountant, Krebs was a longtime volunteer at the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest. At the time of his arrest he was the organization’s treasurer.

Krebs’ home on North Ridgeland Avenue, where he lived with his wife and children, was a 2000 Cavalcade of Pride Award winner for its four-color paint job. He had no criminal record.

That life is over. On Thursday, May 22, Krebs was sentenced by DuPage County Judge Kathryn Creswell to 23 years in prison for his repeated sexual abuse of his great-niece between 2000 and 2003.

“In doing so, not only did he betray her trust, but he also betrayed the trust of his family,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Joe Birkett said in a press release. “Now, at 58 years old and looking at a lengthy prison sentence, it is very likely Mr. Krebs will never be in a position to abuse anyone else again.”

Prosecutors had asked for a 28-year sentence. But Creswell, noting that Krebs suffers from diabetes, said the 23-year term will likely keep him in prison for the rest of his life.

Beginning in April 2000 and continuing until September 2003, prosecutors contended, Krebs had sex with the girl at a number of locations in unincorporated DuPage County adjacent to Downer’s Grove.

The girl eventually told her family, who informed authorities. The Downer’s Grove police arrested Krebs in March 2004. That May, a grand jury returned an indictment listing 12 felonies against Krebs.

This past Feb. 29, a jury found Krebs guilty on five counts of criminal sexual assault by a person in a position of trust and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Former Historical Society president Laurel McMahon, who worked with Krebs on the organization’s business, had nothing to say about the conviction, but called his case “sad.” His volunteer colleagues, she said, had no idea there might be another side to him.

“We had absolutely no clue at all,” said McMahon. She said whenever Krebs’ name comes up among society volunteers, the reaction is a sad silence.

“You can’t help reflect on the fact that he was a great guy,” said McMahon, “come to such a tragic end.”

Historical Society Executive Director Frank Lipo said Friday he had no comment on the developments.

At trial, prosecutors Ann Celine O’Hallaren and Liam Brennan contended Krebs seduced the girl with money and gifts to gain her trust. They produced hotel records with Krebs’ credit card information that supported the girl’s accounts of the assaults.

His great-niece flew in from another state to deliver a victim impact statement to the court. “I will never know why it happened,” she told Judge Creswell.

Krebs continues to maintain his innocence despite the conviction and will appeal.

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