Woman IDs Urbana man at sex assault trial

Woman IDs Urbana man at sex assault trial

URBANA — An 18-year-old Urbana woman identified an Urbana man as the person who followed her to her dormitory early one morning last spring, dragged her outside, and sexually assaulted her.

Gregory G. Hayes, 33, whose last known address was in the 1900 block of East Washington Street, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault.

His jury trial began Monday before Champaign County Judge Richard Klaus.

The University of Illinois student testified Tuesday that she was walking home from a friend's apartment at Springfield and Busey avenues in Urbana to Allen Hall about a mile away about 3 a.m. on April 7 when she sensed someone following her. She was on Busey when she first saw a man about 20 feet behind her. They did not speak to each other. She noticed him again as she walked on Lincoln nearing her dormitory.

When she reached the door of Allen Hall, she said, she hurried to swipe her security card for entry. She got in the door but was almost immediately grabbed from behind by the man she had seen following her, she said.

The jury saw security video showing the man entering right behind the woman, putting an arm around her neck and dragging her out the door.

"He forced me into the courtyard next to the building and sort of fell on top of me," she said, describing her attempts to scream and break free.

She said he had one hand over her mouth and the other up her skirt groping her.

After being sexually molested, the woman said, she continued to scream.

"I was still making noise so he put both hands around my neck," stopping her screams, she said.

However, another Allen Hall resident who was in his fourth-floor room had heard the screaming, looked out his window and saw two people on the ground in an apparent struggle.

Craig Cochrane, 21, a UI senior, said by the time he got to the courtyard, the pair had separated. Cochrane said he asked what was happening and neither said anything to him.

"The man got up and looked at me with a blank face. He walked away, got 10 to 15 feet away, and then ran," Cochrane said, identifying Hayes as the man he had seen.

Another witness, Ryan Mok, said he had also been walking back to Allen Hall, on the other side of Lincoln from the woman, and noticed a man, whom he identified as Hayes, following her.

Mok said as the woman walked, "she seemed very nervous. She was holding herself and looking over her shoulder."

Hearing a scream, he ran toward the courtyard and saw the man who had been following her walking away from him "very urgently" and the woman "very scared, frazzled and terrified.

Both Cochrane and Mok said the woman had cuts and scrapes on her legs, knees and feet, which were bleeding. Mok helped her clean up inside while Cochrane summoned police.

UI police officer Eric Helms said he responded to Allen Hall about 3:25 a.m. and obtained the security video. Less than an hour later, police had located Hayes at his home and returned him to the dormitory, where the woman identified him as her attacker.

In opening statements to the jury, Urbana defense attorney Ruth Wyman suggested that Hayes saw the woman walking alone and was following her to protect her. She said Hayes, who was delivering papers at that hour, suggested to the woman that she call someone to accompany her home. The woman testified the man following her never spoke.

Wyman said that Hayes followed the woman to the door of Allen.

"Not only does she not say 'thank you,' but she says 'I don't need anything from you, you beefy (racial epithet),'" Wyman said.

The woman denied ever saying anything like that to her attacker but did say she pleaded with him not to hurt her .

Wyman said Hayes got angry and told the woman they needed to talk then took her to the courtyard, where they both fell, with him on top of her. After rolling off, she said, he walked back to his car and continued with his job.

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