Jury acquits man in sexual assault case

Jury acquits man in sexual assault case

URBANA — A Champaign County jury took about an hour Wednesday to acquit an Urbana man of criminal sexual assault charges.

Leon McGee, 24, whose last known address was in the 2500 block of Prairie Green, had been charged with two counts of the felony, each alleging a different sex act with a 28-year-old Urbana woman who was working with McGee at the Independent Media Center on Sept. 20.

Testimony during the two-day trial before Judge Heidi Ladd was that the woman was a workfare client of Cunningham Township who had been assigned to work at the IMC in downtown Urbana and that McGee was a maintenance man there who supervised the workfare clients.

On Sept. 20 — she had begun working there Sept. 12 — the woman said she reported to work about 1 p.m. and was mopping in the sunroom when McGee reportedly came up behind her and pressed the front of his body against her back and tried to kiss her. The woman said she told him she had to get back to work and he walked away. Not long after, she said, McGee told her there was a room in the basement that needed to be cleaned out and led her down the stairs.

The woman said McGee used a key to get in the boiler room, where he immediately began unfastening her clothing despite her protests. She said when he stopped to remove his pants, she pulled her pants back up and tried to get away but he stood between her and the door.

She said he then engaged in several sex acts with her.

The woman said when it was over, she got dressed, left the boiler room and left the IMC. Her first call was to the Cunningham Township office, where her supervisor was unavailable. She said she called back minutes later and talked to Township Supervisor Carol Elliott.

The woman and Elliott both testified that the woman asked to be reassigned to another work site so she could complete her required work hours. Elliott said when she asked why, the woman told her she'd been raped there. Elliott said the woman was crying and that Elliott advised her to call the police.

The woman then walked to the Urbana police department where she reported what had happened and was taken to Carle Hospital for a sexual assault exam.

Urbana police went to the IMC to talk to McGee, who initially denied to Officer Angela Vogt that was his name. He was arrested later that day after a more in-depth interview with a detective.

McGee did not testify in his own defense. His attorney, Ruth Wyman of Urbana, called Carol Ammons, operations manager of the IMC, to testify that she heard McGee, the woman, and another workfare client laughing in the hallway not long before the alleged sexual assault.

Wyman also called fellow workfare client Duane Sykes, who testified that after the woman came out of the center about 3 p.m., she was "cheerful and smiling." And when Sykes asked her why she was leaving before the end of her shift, she reportedly said, 'I changed my mind.'"

Wyman argued that the woman and McGee had been "flirting with each other" and that the woman never voiced any concerns about McGee to Ammons.

She theorized that the woman, who has previous criminal convictions for burglary and theft, made up the story of being assaulted to get out of her required work hours for the township.

Elliott testified that she did not require the woman to go back to work for the remainder of September, October or November but continued to pay her the $243 a month for which she qualified, even after the woman said she was willing to take a different assignment.

The woman had testified she did not physically fight with McGee because he is bigger than she is. She also said she didn't yell out because she did not believe there was anyone else in the basement and because it was loud due to the mechanical equipment running.

Assistant State's Attorney Scott Bennett said there is nothing in the law that requires the woman to put up a fight. She said no repeatedly to McGee's advances, Bennett said. "All she's got is her words and they're not working."

"Going down the basement doesn't imply 'Now I'm game for whatever you wanted to do in the sunroom,'" he argued.

He also said it made no sense for the woman to have to tell the intimate details to everyone from police to nurses to lawyers to the jury just to get out of her workfare commitment.

"Wouldn't it have been easier to clean some bathrooms?" he asked. "Two-hundred-forty-three dollars is not very much to make up a lie."

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