Ex-UI football player sentenced to 90 years

Ex-UI football player sentenced to 90 years

UPDATED 10:20 p.m. Wednesday

URBANA — Convicted rapist Steven Feagin, described by a Champaign County prosecutor as someone with two faces — one normal and part of regular society, the other a masked sexual predator — was sentenced to the maximum of 90 years in jail for a rape that occurred 17 years ago in Urbana.

From Deerfield Beach, Fla., Feagin, 42, is a former University of Illinois football player who attended the university on scholarship from 1989 until he graduated in 1994 with a degree in speech communication. He stayed in the area as a resident until eventually moving back to Florida.

In June, a jury found Feagin guilty of three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault for a July 13, 1995, attack on a then-22-year-old woman in her apartment on West Illinois Street in Urbana.

DNA in semen left behind at the scene linked him to the rape. At the trial, a crime lab analyst testified that the odds were 1 in 1 quintillion (a "one with 18 zeros") that the semen belonged to someone other than Feagin.

"Technology caught up with him. It was inevitable that this was going to be the result," said State's Attorney Julia Rietz after the sentencing.

Feagin has been charged with two other rape cases in Champaign-Urbana from the early 1990s, one in 1993 and another in 1995. At a hearing next month, the state will determine how it will pursue those cases given Feagin's sentencing for the July 13, 1995, case, Rietz said.

At the time of the rapes, police issued several crime alerts urging women to be alert and lock their doors. Victims lived in apartments near the UI campus and were white, blond women. The years passed, and although the cases remained unsolved, in 2000, prosecutors filed aggravated criminal sexual assault charges against the DNA under the name James Doe.

In 2008, Urbana police were informed that DNA taken from the cases matched DNA from a June 2007 Pompano Beach, Fla., rape case. John Lockard, an evidence technician with the Urbana police, combed through old UI phone directories looking for a link between the Florida case and the Urbana ones. He was following up on a hunch the rapist was a UI student from Florida.

Florida police later obtained a DNA sample from Feagin and linked him to the Florida case and those in Illinois. He was arrested in September 2008 while working at a Pompano Beach, Fla., car wash. The Florida case was eventually dropped after an apparent breakdown in the working relationship between the victim and the prosecutor there, and Feagin was sent to Illinois.

"He is a multiple-decade serial rapist. He represents an unbelievable and untenable risk to society," said Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar, who asked Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis for the maximum sentence of 30 years for each of the three sexual assault charges for which Feagin was found guilty.

Feagin's lawyers, George Vargas and Steve Schmidt of the public defender's office, said Feagin was one of 17 children of migrant farmers. He grew up poor but was able to excel in sports and attend the UI on scholarship, Vargas said.

"He's a compassionate person. He's somebody's son, he's somebody's brother. ... He has touched a lot of lives," Vargas said.

In his statement to the court, Feagin said he was a "productive member of society," a father of three children, holding down sales jobs and coaching youth athletics.

"I'm sorry we had to all go through this terrible ordeal," he said.

Lozar described Feagin as a predator who presented one face to the public — a man who could blend in as a "normal person" and someone who put on a mask and preyed on victims he could hurt and exploit.

"He's left behind a trail of damage behind him," Lozar said.

"It's hard not to think about what happened to me," said the victim of the July 13, 1995, attack, as she read a statement to the court about how the attack has affected her. At the time she was an art student; she is now an art teacher.

"As a teacher I worry about the girls" as they graduate high school and leave to attend college, she said. She worries about them being too trusting or letting their guards down.

After the rape, "I was terrified to be alone," she said. It was difficult to sleep, she suffered many nightmares "and fear entered my life," she said.

The woman worried about unlocked windows and doors. She worried when a car drove by slowly in front of her house.

"Trusting new people in my life, especially men, is difficult," she said.

After hearing the guilty verdict last month, "it feels like someone has told me I can finally breathe."

Feagin, Difanis said, committed an "unspeakable act of violence against a young woman."

The judge said the court has to send a message "loudly and clearly that our society cannot tolerate this kind of violence."

Because the attack occurred before truth-in-sentencing legislation, which requires inmates to serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, Feagin is subject to day-to-day good time. So far he has spent 440 days in jail.

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Reykjavik wrote on July 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm

The crime statistics for football and basketball players seems higher than for other students at UIUC.  Are there data supporting my hunch?  

common_sense_isn't wrote on July 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

Yes, but unfortunately there is great incentive for the school to cover up sexual assaults as "misunderstandings" because those boys bring in a lot of money.  They also have this nifty scheme where they encourage girls to go through the student disciplinary commitee instead of filing a police report.  The committee hands out some nonsense punishment like a suspension and there are no criminal charges, no media coverage, and no need to report under the Clery Act - thus, it doesn't happen here.  Penn State should be a lesson to other big ten schools.  When you value your athletic programs more than you value people, eventually, you will get burned.

LeslieM wrote on July 26, 2012 at 2:07 am


"He's a compassionate person. He's somebody's son, he's somebody's brother. ... He has touched a lot of lives," Vargas said.

In his statement to the court, Feagin said he was a "productive member of society," a father of three children, holding down sales jobs and coaching youth athletics.

"I'm sorry we had to all go through this terrible ordeal," he said.


OK so since he is a brother, a son and a father that was a preductive member of society we should all feel sorry for him. I think not. Not only did he disrespect these women's bodies but installed a fear into that has been there for a lot of their lives. He deserves the sentance he got and I for one am glad that the judge decided to give him the maxium sentance. I do feel sorry for his wife and children to have to learn about the monster they were living with and didn't know about and sorry the children won't have a father around to raise them and the wife for not having her husband around. I do not feel sorry for him.

areader wrote on July 26, 2012 at 6:07 am

I agree 100%  People need to step up to the plate, take responsibility and stop blaming society and other factors as the reason(s) why they turned out bad!

Get this scumbag off the street!


Reykjavik wrote on July 26, 2012 at 8:07 am

Unfortunately, many people (me too sometimes) share your views.  I hear that incarceration costs about $50,000 each year.  So not only did he rape a girl, he is raping our tax coffers.  That $50k could be going to an orphanage or mental health or old-age home.  When he comes out in 40+ years, he will be useless to society and we will continue to pay.

common_sense_isn't wrote on July 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

Comparing taking up taxpayer money to sexual assault completely devalues the seriousness of that crime.  How often do you hear people say "I got raped by that late fee" or something similar.  It is nowhere near the same thing, and quite an insensitive comparison.

Reykjavik wrote on July 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm

It might be insensitive to compare rape of a person to rape of our coffers, and I did not mean to imply that they are equivalent.  But now that you bring up the subject ...

For $50,000 per year for the next 40-50 years, how many orphans, aged, mentally ill could we protect from being abused?  My guess, several.  Dont you think that those people deserve consideration?

This kind of calculation requires discussion without recrimination, it seems.  It is not a pretty or fun discussion, but its the kind of thing that adults and (honest) politicians must deal with.

rsp wrote on July 27, 2012 at 10:07 am

Actually since you repeated the line the way you do you are minimizing it. Let's have an honest discussion about it. Do you think it's a choice between the widows and orphans, and locking up the rapist? It's a trick question, I'll warn you in advance. But go ahead and give you answer.

serf wrote on July 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

A classic example of a false dilemma.  If you are for locking up serial rapists, then you must be against orphans and old people.

I'm for locking up serial rapists (those who are a true danger to society) and I'm also for helping those who are mentally ill.

The two are not mutually exclusive.

rsp wrote on July 28, 2012 at 3:07 am

I don't know why some think it's either/or. A severe trauma can cause PTSD which is a mental illness. A high percentage of inmates were either abused or in foster care as children. There is so much we know about these issues and even given the opportunity we usually do the wrong thing. Penny wise pound foolish. 

common_sense_isn't wrote on July 26, 2012 at 9:07 am

Touched a lot of lives?  That monster has ruined a lot of lives too.  Frankly, I'm quite satisfied to see him rot in jail.

BelindaT wrote on August 01, 2012 at 2:08 am

There are certain things that should not be tolerated and this is one of them .

common_sense_isn't wrote on August 01, 2012 at 9:08 am

There is no such thing as a "rape of our coffers."  That would be because rape is a devestating crime of forced sexual activity, and there is absolutely no comparison as far as tax money is concerned.  Anyone who would be insensitive enough to make that comparison has obviously never known or loved someone who has been victimized in that way.  How sad that you can't see that, and are only interested in pushing your opinion on your pet issue.  If you truely thought it wasn't equivalent or was offensive, you wouldn't keep making excuses, you would stop saying it.