A Champaign police officer was charged and arraigned in Champaign County on charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated domestic battery, according to a news report. The suspect, Jerad Gale, is alleged to have anally penetrated a 23-year-old woman and tried to strangle her by covering her nose and mouth and pressing her head into a pillow. The woman was Gale’s former girlfriend, a University of Illinois student, who went to UI police on May 5 to inform them about an alleged assault by Gale that happened on November 9, 2013. According to the Champaign county prosecutor in charge, the woman had been in a relationship with Gale from November 2012 to November 2013.
Another woman came forward with allegations against Gale in Piatt County. The woman dated Gale between 2008 and 2012 and lived with him in Monticello where Gale worked as a police officer for three years. Gale was charged and arraigned on two felony counts of criminal sexual assault.
Sexual Assault in Illinois
In order to be convicted of criminal sexual assault in Illinois, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an individual committed an act of sexual penetration and:
- Used force or threat of force;
- The victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent;
- The victim was a family member under 18 years old; or
- The individual was 17 years of age or older and holds a position of authority, trust, or supervision over the victim who is between 13 and 17 years old.
For a first conviction, the crime is a Class 1 felony and carries a mandatory prison term of four to fifteen years. For a second conviction, it is considered a Class X felony and carries between six to thirty years of imprisonment. Subsequent convictions can result between thirty to sixty years or life imprisonment.
Criminal sexual assault becomes aggravated if it involves the following aggravating factors:
- dangerous weapon;
- bodily harm;
- threatening the life of the victim or another;
- commission of another felony;
- the victim is sixty years old or older;
- the victim is physically disabled;
- the accused delivered any controlled substance to the victim;
- the accused was armed with a firearm or discharged a firearm; or
- The accused discharged a firearm during the offense that caused great bodily harm or death to another person.
Additionally, aggravated criminal sexual assault occurs when an individual commits an act of sexual penetration and:
- the victim is eight years old or under and the accused is under seventeen years old.
- the victim is between nine through 12 years of age and force or threat of force is involved, and the accused is under seventeen years of age; or
- the victim is severely or profoundly mentally disabled.
Aggravated criminal sexual assault is a Class X felony and, for first convictions, carries between six and thirty years of mandatory imprisonment with possible extended terms of ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five years, or a natural life term. For second or subsequent convictions, the mandatory prison term is for the accused’s natural life.
Here, Gale is accused of having caused bodily harm to one of the victims during the act of penetration as he allegedly tried to strangle her and pressed her head into a pillow. This may be considered as an aggravating factor, unless Gale can successfully prove consent as a defense.