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Illinois 'Officer of the Year' Accused of Raping Women

© Champaign Police Department HandoutIllinois 'Officer of the Year' Accused of Raping Women
Illinois 'Officer of the Year' Accused of Raping Women - Sputnik International
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Only months ago, Officer Jerad Gale, 31, of the Champaign Police Department in Illinois was named the force’s Officer of the Year. On Tuesday, he was arrested for sexual assault and domestic violence against two former girlfriends.

Gale is accused of covering a victim's mouth and nose during an assault, while slamming her head into a pillow to suffocate her.

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"You committed an act of sexual penetration by the use of force. And, in doing so, caused bodily harm to that person, that in holding her down, you caused bilateral cervical strain to her neck and a bruise to her arm. You covered her nose and mouth and pressed her head into a pillow, impeding her normal breathing," charges read to Gale in a courtroom on Wednesday stated.

Both of Gale’s alleged victims were fellow University of Illinois students at the time of the incidents, which occurred in 2012 and 2013.  Three of the charges for one victim occurred in Champaign County and one charge for the other victim occurred in Piatt County. The two counties will be working together on the prosecution.

A conviction for the single charge in Piatt County is punishable by five to 15 years in prison, while the three he is facing in Champaign County range from three to seven years, to six to 30 years each.

He was also accused of sexual assault in 2007, but charges were never filed against him in that case, which the prosecution plans to revisit for details and similarities for the current case. Illinois law allows presenting evidence from prior offenses to "show a defendant's propensity to commit sex offenses if the court finds that the other offenses occurred close in time to the charged offense and are factually similar to the charged offense."

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With the public’s current scrutiny of the lack of accountability when it comes to crimes committed by the boys in blue, Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz assured reporters that the officer will not be receiving any special treatment.

"We're basing our decisions based on the evidence we have in front of us and on the law and not on any other considerations," Rietz said, acknowledging the potential for the case to become high-profile. 

"We are confident in the strength of our evidence at this point, which is why we've proceeded as we have," Rietz added.

The Champaign Police Department has stated there is no reason for them to believe that the crimes happened while he was on duty.

Gale is currently being held in Piatt County and will have to return to court in both counties next month.

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