URBANA — A former University of Illinois police officer accused of sexually assaulting four women unable to consent is due back in court with his own attorney May 1.
Appearing in person Thursday before Judge Tom Difanis, Jerald Sandage, 48, of LeRoy, formerly of Savoy, indicated to Difanis that he understood the penalties he faces if convicted of criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual abuse and intimidation.
The 12-year veteran of the UI police department who resigned in February was arrested Wednesday morning in LeRoy by Illinois State Police, who have been investigating him for almost two year.
Sandage is being held in the Piatt County Jail in Monticello for his own safety. He wore a green jumpsuit and a mask and was shackled at the waist and feet.
Assistant Public Defender Ramona Sullivan appeared with him only for arraignment as Sandage told Difanis that his own attorney was unable to be in court with him. He never mentioned her name.
Stephanie Wong of Bloomington represents Sandage in an official misconduct case that was filed in December. Those charges allege that while he was employed as a UI police officer, he inappropriately used public resources to look up information on women for about a year starting in February 2017.
It’s not clear if Wong will represent him on the more serious sex charges.
State’s Attorney Julia Rietz filed four separate cases, one for each alleged victim, with a total of five counts of the Class 1 criminal sexual assault.
In one of the cases, he is charged only with criminal sexual abuse, a Class 4 felony and in another, besides criminal sexual assault, he is also charged with intimidation for trying to blackmail his alleged victim into having sex with him in return for not telling her husband she was cheating on him with another man. The husband is also named as a victim in one of the intimidation counts.
Difanis warned Sandage that conviction of criminal sexual assault carries a prison sentence of between four and 15 years and he faces potential consecutive sentences on those counts.