URBANA — A former University of Illinois police officer who is accused of raping four women while they were passed out, taking pictures of them and even blackmailing one into having more sex with him by threatening to expose an extramarital affair is locked up in lieu of $3 million bond.
Authorities think there may be more women who have been allegedly victimized by Jerald “Jerry” Sandage who are not even aware they were victims.
Sandage, 48, was arrested Wednesday morning in LeRoy, where he was living, by Illinois State Police.
They had arrest warrants signed Tuesday by Judge Tom Difanis in four different criminal cases.
The arrest was Sandage’s second in four months on criminal charges. He was charged in December with official misconduct for allegedly using police resources to look up personal information on women, while both on and off duty.
And for the second time, he was taken to the Piatt County jail in Monticello, where there are typically very few inmates, for his own protection. He was expected to make his court appearance this afternoon in Champaign before Difanis.
New charges, lengthy investigation
'I am very grateful that they were finally able to find the evidence they needed to charge him, not only for me but for multiple other victims,' said the woman, who asked that her name be withheld.
The charges filed by State’s Attorney Julia Rietz are the culmination of an investigation that began with Illinois State Police in the fall of 2018, when one of the four women named reported that Sandage had non-consensual sex with her.
The office of the state appellate prosecutor, appointed at the time because Sandage was still a UI police officer, declined to file criminal charges in that case.
However, an internal investigation by UI police initiated a year later uncovered information that between February 2017 and January 2018, Sandage was using police resources while both on and off duty to seek personal information about women.
That prompted Rietz to file seven counts of official misconduct against Sandage in December.
With those charges on file, Illinois State Police, aided by UI police, continued to investigate Sandage by taking another look at the 2018 case, interviewing other women who came forward and looking at his phone with a judge’s permission.
“They found hundreds of thousands of images and pieces of data going back years,” Rietz said. “There are still potential victims out there that have not been identified yet.”
Sandage resigned as a UI officer at the end of February, 12 years after he was hired.
He is being represented on the official-misconduct charges by Stephanie Wong of Bloomington, who could not be reached Wednesday. A colleague at her firm said it was “unlikely” she would continue to represent him in the new criminal cases, but that had not been resolved.
As part of the investigation, Rietz said, police got information from four women, each of whom accused Sandage of sex assault, abuse and intimidation.
Rietz said the allegations in each of the cases are:
— On June 29, 2012, Sandage is accused of committing criminal sexual assault with a woman who was unable to consent. He and the woman were friends and were at a bar together. The victim was intoxicated and went to his home and fell asleep.
Photos found on his phone show Sandage allegedly committing a sex act with the woman, who was unaware it happened until she was shown the photos.
— On March 19, 2016, Sandage is accused of committing criminal sexual abuse with a female friend. Photos on his phone show her apparently unconscious and in states of undress as he allegedly committed a sex act with her. The woman didn’t know it had happened until seeing the pictures.
— On Sept. 22, 2018, Sandage is accused of committing criminal sexual assault on a woman he had met at a bar and invited to another bar to see a band. She went to his apartment with him, had a drink and passed out. She said she awoke to find him on top of her committing a sex act. A search of his phone showed that three weeks earlier, he had looked up information on date-rape drugs. (This was the case where the state appellate prosecutor declined to file charges.)
— Between November 2017 and November 2019, Sandage is accused of committing criminal sexual assault and intimidation with a woman he knew. He allegedly had sex with her when she couldn’t consent and threatened that unless she continued to have sex with him, he would reveal to her husband information about another relationship she was having with a married man.
Rietz said the criminal-sexual-assault charges are Class 1 felonies carrying potential penalties of between four and 15 years in prison and that if Sandage is convicted, the sentences would have to run one after the other, exposing him to decades in prison.
Intimidation is a Class 3 felony punishable by probation to two to 10 years in prison. Criminal sexual abuse is a Class 4 felony punishable by probation to one to three years in prison.