URBANA — A Tolono man convicted of sexually molesting two young girls faces a minimum of 15 to 123 years in prison when he is sentenced in December.
Judge Tom Difanis on Tuesday found Michael Shonkwiler, 44, guilty of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, a Class X felony, and three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony.
The charges stemmed from conduct that occurred during 2011 and 2012 in Shonkwiler’s home, where he acted as a caretaker for one of the girls; the other was her friend who visited in his home.
Even though he faces the lengthy mandatory prison term, Difanis allowed Shonkwiler to remain free on bond because he is seriously ill and requires dialysis three times daily, which he is able to do at home.
Difanis set sentencing for Dec. 16.
Shonkwiler, who is represented by Assistant Public Defender Ben Dyer, waived his right to a jury trial and elected to have Difanis hear the evidence against him.
Assistant State’s Attorney Troy Lozar said that included the live testimony of the two victims, who are now 17 and 18, as well as a number of stipulations that he and Dyer agreed Difanis could consider from Champaign County sheriff’s investigators and the girls’ parents.
Difanis heard and reviewed the evidence over two days, and issued the guilty verdicts Tuesday.
Shonkwiler was charged a year ago after one of the two victims reported to sheriff’s deputies that six years earlier, when she was 10 or 11, Shonkwiler bought her alcohol, kissed her and touched her in sexually inappropriate ways while she was at his home in The Oaks trailer park.
During her interview at the Children’s Advocacy Center, she shared information that led to the allegations that her friend may have been abused. That girl was also interviewed, leading to one of the counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of which Shonkwiler was convicted.
In an interview with sheriff’s investigators, Shonkwiler admitted inappropriate contact with one of the girls.