Tolono man gets 45 years: 'You're a danger to the public, and you should be treated as such'

Tolono man gets 45 years: 'You're a danger to the public, and you should be treated as such'

URBANA — A Tolono man who admitted he sexually exploited young girls in his home has been sentenced to 45 years in prison.

Joshua E. Lange, 40, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Court Judge James Shadid on three separate counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, to which he pleaded guilty this past April.

A fourth count of possession of child pornography was dismissed in return for his guilty plea.

Another aspect of his agreement with federal authorities is that he will plead guilty in Champaign County Circuit Court in a criminal case filed in August 2017 alleging he had sex with a teenage girl in July and August 2017. Whatever sentence he receives in that case is to run at the same time as his federal sentence.

That case is set for Nov. 13.

Shadid addressed two courtroom rows of adolescent victims and some of their mothers who wept through the statements they made and told them they'd done nothing wrong and that they shouldn't hate themselves.

"I cannot protect you from everybody, but I can protect you from Joshua Lange," he said.

To a weeping Lange, Shadid told him he'd earned a life sentence.

"You're a danger to the public, and you should be treated as such," he said.

Specifically, Shadid sentenced Lange to 30 years on two counts, plus another 15 years on a third count, to be served separately. The third count carried a lesser sentence only because it was sufficient to achieve the intended purpose, Shadid said.

The sexual exploitation charges filed by federal authorities stemmed from conduct that occurred at Lange's home in Tolono, where the girls were overnight guests on different occasions between September 2015 and January 2017.

According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Elly Peirson at the time of Lange's plea, Lange took lewd photographs that depicted himself near the girls as they slept.

Seven young girls and women made statements to the court about the impact of Lange's conduct on their lives, with Lange listening in tears.

"I'm still afraid of people touching me. I still can't sleep at night," said one victim.

Another said she couldn't eat, she couldn't do anything, "I just felt so gross in my body."

Another said she remains afraid to sleep in the dark.

"I can't look at myself in the mirror without crying," she said.

Peirson said nothing she could say about how Lange's conduct impacted lives would describe it better than the victims' own statements. One point in Lange's favor, she said, is that he took responsibility for his actions and didn't put the children through a trial.

Lange's attorney, U.S. Public Defender Elisabeth Pollock, said her client had been abused himself as a child and she asked for a sentence of 20 years.

She contended he could be rehabilitated, out of prison in his 60s and still be able to live a useful life.

Lange expressed sorrow for his actions and said he hoped one day the victims would be able to forgive him.

He didn't fully realize how many people his conduct would affect, he said, but he now realizes the pain he's caused and that he should have gotten help.

"I knew I needed help and never got it," he said.

If Lange gets maximum credit for good behavior in prison, Peirson said, he will have to serve 85 percent of his sentence or just over 38 years.

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