Champaign man pleads in nursing home sex scheme

Champaign man pleads in nursing home sex scheme

URBANA — A Champaign man who admitted his role in a bizarre scheme to take sexual advantage of women with dementia in a Champaign memory care facility a year ago faces up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

Channing Butler, 26, who listed an address in the 500 block of East Eureka Street, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of solicitation to commit aggravated criminal sexual assault with three different women, a Class 1 felony.

Assistant State's Attorney Matt Banach, who negotiated the plea agreement with Butler's attorney, Steve Sarm of Urbana, said he made no promises to Butler about his sentence but agreed to dismiss three other differently worded counts alleging the same offenses.

Butler was arrested in January for trying to videotape three men whom he enlisted to sexually assault the women last June at the Bickford Cottage, 1002 S. Staley Road, C, an assisted living and memory care facility for seniors.

Banach said Butler was employed there and brought the men into the facility in the early morning hours, when he was the only employee present.

Banach said the acts Butler solicited were never carried out on two of the women as they pushed their would-be rapists away or the men had difficulty performing the acts. Butler told police that one of the men carried out a sex act with one of the women, who has since died.

The women were 88, 90 and 95 and suffered profound memory impairment but were not physically disabled, police learned.

The allegations were investigated for months by Champaign police after one of the three men whom Butler offered to pay told authorities in Vermilion County about it in hopes of getting a break on his criminal case. That man was in jail in Danville at the time and was subsequently sentenced to prison for burglary.

Police were unable to locate one of the men but a second was found and is also serving a prison sentence for a weapons violation.

Given the women's cognitive abilities, the case took a while for police to put together.

However, police obtained photos from Butler's cellphone that corroborated the allegations leveled by the informant.

Banach said police also recovered from Butler's phone at least two messages discussing solicitation, payment and recording of sex acts with people over 70.

Police also found on his phone Google searches for terms involving sexual assault of the elderly, CNA (certified nursing assistant) rape and nursing home rape.

Butler had no criminal record,

Judge Heidi Ladd set sentencing for July 29.

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