URBANA — An Indiana man who met, befriended, and had sex with a Champaign teen in a period of three weeks last summer has been sentenced to 10 years in the federal penitentiary.
"You are just so lucky the way this case came out," U.S. District Court Judge Michael McCuskey told Nicholas Hurley.
The 22-year-old Daleville, Ind., man pleaded guilty in January to a count of transportation of a minor for taking a 13-year-old Champaign girl to another state on Sept. 5 so he could have sex with her.
Because Hurley pleaded guilty and spared the victim a trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson agreed to cap her sentencing recommendation at 10 years in prison.
"Had this case gone to trial, a jury would have convicted you in 15 minutes and you'd face life," said McCuskey, who had reviewed the timeline leading up to the crime.
He noted that the teen had gone to Indiana to visit an 18-year-old family friend on Aug. 16. There she met Hurley, who was the boyfriend of her friend.
The family friend shared with authorities that she was uncomfortable with the amount of attention Hurley was giving her younger friend.
On Aug. 30, McCuskey noted, that discomfort continued when Hurley and his girlfriend traveled to Champaign to visit the teen's family. After they left, the teen's mother learned that her daughter and Hurley were communicating frequently through text messages, Facebook and Skype.
On Sept. 4, the mother told Hurley that his contact with her daughter was inappropriate and needed to stop. He agreed not to contact her.
On Sept. 5, the daughter asked for permission to go for a walk, which the mother gave, and Hurley met her at a fast-food restaurant in Champaign and drove to Monticello, where he purchased condoms and had sex with her, then continued on to Missouri.
Hurley allowed the girl to phone her mother that day to say she was all right, which triggered a police investigation into her kidnapping.
She was located the next morning in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Hurley was arrested. He's been in custody since.
Reading her prepared remarks aloud for McCuskey, the girl's mother said since the encounter with Hurley, her daughter has attempted suicide, been hospitalized for two weeks, suffers from nightmares, and sees a psychiatrist monthly.
"Our child who was once a social butterfly is now socially withdrawn and almost friendless," she said.
Her husband lost his job in mid-October and she has turned down jobs, she said, to accommodate the schedule of their daughter's many appointments to deal with her depression.
"Our daughter's smile used to light up the room and draw people in," she said. Now friends inquire if she is all right, she said.
Hurley apologized to them, McCuskey and his own family.
"It was a mistake. It shouldn't have happened. I can promise the court it will not happen again," he said.
Over the objection of Peter Henderson, Hurley's court-appointed lawyer, McCuskey imposed a 10-year period of supervision after Hurley is released from prison so that parole authorities can monitor his computer activity and any attempts to contact children. Hurley also has to register as a sex offender for life.
"This cannot be accidental in three weeks," McCuskey said of Hurley's allusion to making a mistake. "You have to get your brain refunctioned during prison. This is not normal."