URBANA — Urbana attorney Jim Kuehl said he was as surprised as anyone when his client told a judge Tuesday morning he wanted to admit that he was a sexually violent person.
Clarence King Jr.'s decision precluded the need for what might have been a three-day trial before Judge John Kennedy.
The upshot of the convicted rapist's admission is that he will continue to be locked up in a Department of Human Services facility while getting treatment for the mental disorder that makes him want to commit violent sex acts.
King, now 54, was 19 when he began a string of attacks on women in 1976. Although authorities believe he was responsible for more, he was convicted in 1977 of four rapes and one attempted rape and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The petition to declare him sexually violent was filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan on Jan. 27, on the eve of King's parole from prison.
Since then, he's been at the DHS holding and treatment center for sex offenders in Rushville in western Illinois.
"He told the court he knows he needs treatment and wants the treatment. He said he didn't want to waste the court's time," said Kuehl, adding that Kennedy assured King that he had every right to trial.
"No one was expecting it. We just deposed the second psychiatrist last Friday," said Kuehl, a veteran of the proceedings, which are civil in nature.
Kuehl said part of the reason it took so long to get King's case ready for trial was that the attorneys had trouble getting the depositions of three expert witnesses scheduled.
Typically, in sexually-violent-person trials, the state calls psychologists or psychiatrists who have reviewed the police reports about the underlying crimes, court records, and prison documents, in arriving at their conclusions that a defendant either suffers from a mental disorder that makes him likely to reoffend or does not.
The defendant's victims are rarely called to the trials, although there's no prohibition on that, Kuehl observed.
King's modus operandi was to choke his victims, both young and old, to unconsciousness, then rape and rob them.
When King was sent off to prison, then-State's Attorney Tom Difanis, now the county's presiding judge, said King showed no remorse for his crimes and even threatened him and another staff member during his trial.
King will continue to be held until the doctors at Rushville believe he no longer suffers from the mental problems that make him likely to reoffend. A judge would have to review their petition to have him released.