Illinois Judge Changes Mind, Won't Let Alleged Sex Offender Go to Disney World

A Boone County judge gave a man accused of sexually assaulting three children permission to visit Walt Disney World, then reversed his decision, according to published reports.

Frank D. Atherton, 46, got court approval last month to visit Florida on a two-week vacation.

When he provided the court clerk with his specific itinerary earlier this week, Associate Judge R. Craig Sahlstrom authorized Atherton to spend three days of his trip at the theme park, according to a story in Thursday's edition of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Atherton's attorney, Michael Haughan, defended the trip.

"He is going with his family (to Florida), and he is presumed innocent," Haughan said.

Sahlstrom did not immediately return a message left Thursday at the courthouse for him. Through an assistant, the judge earlier told the Chicago Sun-Times he could not comment on the pending case.

But during a Thursday hearing, Sahlstrom said he was unaware Atherton planned on going to Disney World. He told Haughan to contact Atherton, who already had left on his trip, and tell him to not go to the theme park, the Sun-Times and Rockford Register Star reported.

Lise Lombardo, the assistant state's attorney prosecuting Atherton, said her office was not consulted on Atherton's wish to visit Disney World. She said she objected last month when Atherton was granted permission for the Florida vacation.

Atherton is free on bail, and one of the conditions was that he not have contact with any minor children, Lombardo said.

"We would have objected further had we known that was where he was going," Lombardo said. "Certainly, Disney World is a place known to be frequented by children."

The two girls and one boy Atherton is accused of sexually assaulting are under the age of 13. He has served time in prison for armed robbery, burglary, and theft, according to court records.