URBANA — A Rantoul man will likely die behind bars after being sentenced to the maximum term he could receive for sexually molesting a young girl for years.
Dahinte Thompson, 39, was sentenced on Wednesday to a total of 75 years in prison for predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and criminal sexual assault, two acts a Champaign County jury found that he committed in the late summer and early fall of 2012 at a home in Rantoul.
However, jurors heard a taped statement that the girl gave investigators that suggested the abuse had been going on for six years before it came to light last fall.
"Mr. Thompson presents himself as a hardworking, industrious individual who, when needed, cares for his children. That's the face Mr. Thompson has with the public. But when he's alone with (the victim), he repeatedly molested her over and over again," said Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis.
"Child molesters don't wear a sign around their necks. They provide one face to the public and another in private," he said.
Difanis presided over a four-day jury trial in June that included testimony from the girl, a friend to whom she reported the abuse, a doctor, a social worker, her mother and her sister. They also heard a taped statement of a call that Thompson placed from the county jail to the victim's mother urging her to prepare an affidavit to present to prosecutors saying that the girl was lying.
Perhaps most damaging though, was the testimony of a female relative of Thompson's, now an adult, who testified that he molested her for a period of about four years starting when she was 7. Appearing in court shackled and wearing a prison uniform, the woman testified how the abuse caused her to turn to drugs, alcohol and a life of crime.
Difanis called that woman's testimony "chilling" and said it was apparent that the missteps she had taken in life were the result of what Thompson had done to her approximately 25 years ago.
Assistant State's Attorney Stephanie Weber had urged Difanis to impose the maximum 60 years on the predatory sexual assault conviction and the maximum 15 on the criminal sexual assault conviction. Because they were two separate acts at different times, the law mandates that the sentences be served one after the other.
"The crimes were committed in secret. He was able to get away with it for so long because of where and how he did it," said the prosecutor. "He needs to be separated from society as long as possible."
Assistant Public Defender Jamie Propps argued for a sentence closer to the minimum of 10 years, noting that Thompson would have to serve 85 percent of any sentence he receives.
She described him as a hardworking father of five who sometimes worked two jobs.
Propps said Department of Children and Family Services reports about Thompson's family suggested he was sexually abused as a child.
She also said her client was minimizing his problems with alcohol and cannabis. But she said his criminal history — two misdemeanor convictions and one for driving under the influence — was minimal, and contained nothing to suggest he was violent.
Thompson asked the judge to show "mercy" while continuing to maintain his innocence.
"I am displeased with the verdict but will do all that's necessary to complete my term without conflict or disruption," he said.
Under truth-in-sentencing law, Thompson will have to serve almost 64 years in prison.