David L. Wright, a former Illinois cop who raped a minor girl for more than a decade beginning in 2005, was sentenced to 23 years in prison after he suddenly pleaded guilty as the victim emotionally described the crimes committed against her on the witness stand, reports theT Washington Post.
“The victim had been on the witness stand for about 30 minutes emotionally describing the crimes committed against her when Wright without warning chose to plead guilty, ending the trial,” the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office said.
The judge who presided over the ruling, Kane County Circuit Judge D.J. Tegeler, sharply criticized Wright for his reprehensible actions, saying that if it were up to him to make the decision, he would have put him behind bars for his life.
“Quite frankly, I think 500 years sounds reasonable,” Tegeler said, according to the Chicago Daily Herald. He further chastised Wright for not pleading guilty earlier than he had done, saying it would have saved his victim the trauma of narrating her experiences in front of the world.
“You have not done anything but ruin her,” Tegeler told Wright.
“For you to make her take the witness stand at all, I find reprehensible.”
David L. Wright, who joined the Elburn Police Department as a sworn officer in 1991, had reportedly been abusing the young victim — still a minor — since when she was in the second grade. Prosecutor Lori Schmidt described in court how Wright had repeatedly assaulted the girl from 2005 to 2015, giving a detailed account of the first time the ex-cop approached the girl with his pedophilic fantasies when Wright took his victim to his bathroom and abused her.
“He told her it was going to hurt,” Schmidt said. “And she screamed.”
He abused the young girl for than 10 years up until last year, when the victim came forward while undergoing treatment for depression.
“I cannot overstate the tremendous courage shown by this victim since this case was reported,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.
“Her life has been unimaginably altered, and we are proud of her willingness to speak out and confront her abuser.”
Cases similar to this one — in that the abuser is often a member of the extended family — often go unreported because the young victims, who are still trying to come to terms with their sexuality, avoid telling others about the abuse because they are afraid of backlash or of being hurt by the abuser, according to U.S. Department of Justice.
The Elburn Police Department came to know that their officer had been continuously raping the minor victim for the better part of this century in April last year, and consequently charged David L. Wright with 33 counts including 16 counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and six counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Wright had pleaded not guilty to the charges, which, if proved in court, could have put him in jail for 143 years.
He was fired from his job, and his bail was set at $500,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.
During the trial, the victim was asked to come to the witness stand to testify against Wright. While she was emotionally describing her years of abuse, Wright pleaded guilty without warning. If he had pleaded guilty before the trial began, it would have spared his young victim the pain of recounting her experiences on the stand.
Nonetheless, the courage shown by the victim is undeniable in this case, and while nothing would make up for the years she lost experiencing abuse from David L. Wright, she will at least now be able to live in peace.
[Image via Kane County State’s Attorney Office]