Ex-Champaign man gets 6 years for sex with teen, calling her relative from jail

Ex-Champaign man gets 6 years for sex with teen, calling her relative from jail

URBANA — A Champaign County judge sentenced a former Champaign resident to a total of six years in prison Tuesday for a sex act he admitted committing with a teen more than four years ago, and his unlawful contact with a relative of the girl in the aftermath.

Judge Roger Webber sentenced Al-Rahman Woods, 42, now of Normal, to 4 1/2 years in prison for attempted aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and an additional 18 months behind bars for unlawful communication with a witness — for repeatedly calling a relative of the girl from jail following his arrest in 2017.

Woods had pleaded guilty in February to those charges, filed in two separate cases.

In return, Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson, who was dealing with an uncooperative victim, agreed to dismiss more serious charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse against Woods.

Larson told Webber he entered into a "generous compromise" of a plea bargain with Woods, through his attorney Baku Patel of Urbana, to spare forcing the girl to testify.

"We have to make compromises like this to avoid re-victimizing the victim," said Larson, who recommended a five-year sentence on the sex charge and two years for the unlawful communication.

Larson noted that Woods had prior felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance in 1997 and 2008 and a robbery conviction in 2002, in addition to five misdemeanor and multiple driving-related convictions.

Patel argued that his client's criminal history was so dated that the judge shouldn't give much weight to it. He also pointed out that neither the victim nor any members of her family were present for the sentencing or sent letters saying what Woods should get.

Patel said Woods was gainfully employed as a cook until the time of his arrest in February 2017. Woods had been charged in November 2016, after a lengthy investigation by the Champaign County Sheriff's Office resulted in a warrant for his arrest.

It was March 2015 that the then-13-year-old girl brought the allegations of unwanted sexual contact with Woods to the attention of authorities, who then contacted the sheriff's office. The sex reportedly happened in Urbana in January 2015, Larson said.

While Woods initially denied any contact, DNA collected from the girl and him suggested otherwise, Larson said. The calls to the relative were not sinister, Patel maintained, but done because Woods had a previous relationship with that person.

He urged the judge to consider probation, noting that Woods had already served 305 days in jail and that since his release, he has had no further contact with law enforcement. Patel also said a sex-offender evaluator put Woods at a "low to moderate" risk to re-offend.

Woods told the judge he has been living with a lot of "shame and pain" since being accused and that "sometimes you have to do things you really don't want to do."

Analyzing the facts of the case against Woods' background, the judge said he found Woods to be in a position of trust over the girl, which made his behavior worse. However, the judge also found that Woods had gone a long time without criminal activity.

Woods is eligible for day-for-day good time on his sentences for the two Class 3 felonies. He will also get credit for the 10 months already served. He will have to register for life as a sex offender.

Sections (2):News, Local