By RICK HAYES firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — A Sesser man has been sentenced to 18 years to the Illinois Department of Corrections for a sex crime committed against a young child.
Jared D. Amos, 24, received the prison sentence from Judge David Overstreet during a sentencing hearing Wednesday in Jefferson Circuit Court.
Amos entered an open plea of guilty to the Class X felony charge of predatory criminal sexual assault in November 2012, according to the court.
Two witnesses were called to testify on behalf of the state. John Robert Barrett, the former Chief of Police in Sesser, said he first investigated the incident in July 2012. He testified he interviewed the victim and Amos after receiving a call from an official of the Department of Child and Family Services that a sexual offense may have occurred. Barrett said it was first reported the incident occurred in Sesser, although it later turned out the incident occurred in Jefferson County jurisdiction. Barrett said he learned that information through his interview with Amos — who admitted the offense after being shown a photograph of the victim. Barrett said Amos immediately began weeping when he was confronted with the photograph and immediately admitted, "I'm sorry for what I did to her," according to Barrett.
There were at least two inappropriate acts of sexual contact, Barrett outlined, both occurring at a residence in the Oak Grove Village mobile home community. The incidents occurred in the bathroom and living room of the residence while Amos was babysitting the 3-year-old female.
Warren Jackson, a certified sexual offender treatment evaluator for Community Connections, also testified he completed an evaluation of Amos in January. Using a Static 99 evaluation, Amos was given a rating of three, which is a low to moderate risk, according to Jackson. Another evaluation, called Razor, gave Amos a rating of two. The Razor evaluation is to determine the defendant's ability of recidivism.
The defendant was the only witness to testify on behalf of the defense. Attorney Sean Featherstun noted Amos had not previously been convicted of any misdemeanor or felony and he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a child, although he couldn't recall for how long or the number of incidents.
Amos was allowed to be freed from foot shackles and handcuffs during his testimony. He also provided the court with a statement of allocution, in which he said, "I apologize to everyone involved. I hope one day I can be forgiven. I'm sorry for the embarrassment to my family and hope I can get help (with issues)."
Featherstun recommended a sentence in the 6- to 10-year range while Assistant State's Attorney Darin Rice argued for a minimum sentence of 20 years.
"The court feels a strong responsibility to protect the community, and the risk to re-offend is there," Overstreet said. He added the defendant has a "severe" problem in being around young children and becoming aroused. Barrett testified Amos became aroused when he presented the photograph of the victim, and the defendant had admitted to becoming aroused when visiting a DuQuoin swimming pool and seeing females in bikini bathing attire.
Amos will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, or a little over 15 years, according to the court.