A former Kane County Sheriff’s sergeant is facing sexual assault charges related to his treatment of employees while on the job. Russell Norris, 48, is charged with two counts of attempted criminal sexual assault, six counts of official misconduct, and one count of criminal sexual abuse. All charges are felonies under the law.
According to authorities, Norris, a corrections officer, made unlawful sexual contact with four employees while on duty. At the time, Norris was their supervisor. In July of this year, an employee filed a complaint against him. He was subsequently placed on administrative leave and resigned from the sheriff’s office a month later. Norris joined the department in 1998 and was promoted to sergeant in 2009.
Charge: Attempted Criminal Sexual Assault
Criminal sexual assault requires forcible penetration while attempted criminal sexual assault does not, only the threat or likelihood of sexual penetration is required and the presence of a reasonable threat of force. A six-year sentence for attempted criminal sexual assault is about the standard. Norris is facing two counts of attempted criminal sexual assault.
Charge: Official Misconduct
Police officers are occasionally held to a higher standard than everyone else. As an example, a citizen would not be charged with a second crime for violating the law. However, a police officer can be charged with official misconduct when they knowingly do something they know is illegal while working in their official capacity as a peace officer. A third-degree felony carries a minimum sentence of two years, a maximum of five, and a median of 48 months.
Charge: Criminal Sexual Abuse
Criminal sexual abuse is considered the least of all the offenses Norris committed. This is because criminal sexual abuse does not require sexual penetration. It is similar to the crime of sexual battery, which is unlawful touching. That being said, it is still considered a class-three felony with a median sentence of 48 months.
Defenses to These Charges
Norris will need to stem the damage caused by the allegations by minimizing their capacity to be interpreted as crossing a legal threshold. For instance, attempted criminal sexual assault is considered a worse crime than criminal sexual abuse. Norris can argue that his conduct constituted criminal sexual abuse, but never rose to the standard of criminal sexual assault. There are, however, four women who appear to be filing complaints against him, so their testimony will be pivotal in determining whether or not the harshest charges stick.
The problem is that criminal sexual abuse would constitute official misconduct. So every instance of criminal sexual abuse can be charged separately as misconduct. In other words, he is still facing four third-degree felonies with a median sentence of 48 months each, or, tallying the total, 16 years.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing serious criminal charges in the Chicago area, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.