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URBANA — An Urbana man who sexually assaulted a woman who had passed out in his car after going out drinking with him in August 2018 has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Judge Randy Rosenbaum sentenced Michael D. Carter, 44, on Tuesday, calling him “a serial molester.”

Carter pleaded guilty Aug. 19 to a single count of criminal sexual assault involving just that woman. But in presenting evidence to aggravate his sentence, Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Bucher called three adult female witnesses who testified that they, too, had been assaulted by Carter.

Bucher also called as a witness a Champaign police detective who testified about a fifth victim who said she had been molested by Carter three times when she was 6 years old.

Rosenbaum said he found the women testifying about past incidents with Carter believable, given that they subjected themselves to embarrassment coming to court to testify and “had no ax to grind.”

What was clear to him, Rosenbaum said, is “over the course of time, Michael Carter has become a serial molester.”

In the incident for which Carter was sentenced, prosecutors said the victim, who knew him, had run into him in downtown Champaign, had a drink with him, then went to a wine bar with him.

She passed out at some point when Carter was driving her home and found him on top of her in the car. She underwent a sexual-assault test, after which the state crime lab confirmed that Carter’s DNA had been found inside her.

The victim’s mother sobbed for minutes on the stand before she was able to talk about the impact of the assault on her daughter.

“It hurt her. It broke her spirit,” she said.

The woman also said her daughter, who was once “full of life and joy,” has continued to struggle and be afraid and now “trusts no one.”

“It’s been hard,” she said. “As a mom, you’re supposed to be strong. You’re supposed to protect your children, and my heart aches for her because I can’t fix it.”

All three other women who testified about having been assaulted by Carter said they’d been at bars and had gone to after-hours parties at private homes when the incidents occurred.

One woman said Carter brought her a beer at the party, and a short while later she began feeling hot and went out to the driveway, where she nearly passed out. She said she was advised by a friend to sleep it off on the couch, and later became aware of Carter on top of her.

“He was having sex with my limp, unconscious body,” she said.

Another woman said she and her friend were going to sleep overnight at the party host’s home, and that while she and her friend were lying down, Carter tried to put his penis in their hands. She tried to wake her friend, she said, but her friend didn’t want to leave so she wound up going home alone.

Her friend who remained at the home said she woke up to find Carter’s hands down her pants.

Champaign police Detective Timothy Rivest testified about a Zoom call he participated in with another woman who told him about three incidents in which she said she had been molested by Carter when she was 6 and just out of kindergarten.

In one of the incidents, Rivest said the woman told him about a time she and two other girls were asked by Carter to come and play at his house. Rivest said the woman told him Carter had told her and her friends they were going to play a tickling game, and he had her friends take off her top and shorts and tickle her, then had them perform oral sex on her.

The woman also said Carter rubbed a broomstick on her vagina and later told her he would kill her and her family if she told anyone.

Carter’s mother, Elaine, was the only witness called by his attorney, Jamie Propps.

Elaine Carter testified she has multiple health conditions and her son has been living with her and helping take care of her. She also said her son went to live with his father for a time when he was a teenager, and when he returned to live with his mother, he was “different.”

Elaine Carter said she later learned that her son’s stepmother didn’t like him, that he had to sleep on a cot in the basement and that he had been molested by two men while staying in his father’s home.

Before he was sentenced, Michael Carter made a tearful apology, saying he was sorry for the pain he caused.

“I wish I could go back and change the things I’ve done,” he said.

Rosenbaum said he took into consideration Carter’s guilty plea, the fact that he seemed genuinely sorry and the letters sent from people saying Carter was helpful to the elderly and a caretaker for his mother.

“But there is another side to Mr. Carter that they don’t see,” the judge said.

Rosenbaum said he also took into consideration that in all the incidents described by the women, they had been unable to give consent.

Bucher, who asked for a sentence of 12 years, said “the inability to give knowing consent” is the string that binds all the incidents.

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