Just a few short months after being named the “Officer of the Year” for the Champaign Police Department in Illinois, Jerad Gale, 31, was arrested for strangling and raping two woman.
Now, a few weeks since his arrest, an additional victim and former girlfriend has come forward, alleging similar sexual violence by Gale.
As a result, he will face two additional charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault, most likely ruining his chances for a repeat Officer of the Year award.
On March 30th, 2015, Officer Jerad Gale stood before a packed room of friends, colleagues and media to accept his department’s highest honor.
“I’m just a normal guy” Gale stated after accepting the 2014 Officer of the Year award. Ironically, as he schmoozed with the crowd, he had already been accused of sexual assault in 2007, but avoided arrest due to the statute of limitations for rape, which is three years in Illinois.
But it wouldn’t be long before Gale’s brethren would be forced to investigate and arrest him on June 23rd, 2015 on charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault and aggravated domestic battery.
Two of his former girlfriends filed charges in two different counties alleging a disturbing pattern of sexual violence from the trusted public servant.
One charge alleges that Gale anally penetrated a 23-year-old woman and tried to strangle her by covering her nose and mouth and pressing her head into a pillow.
The victim alerted authorities of the incident in May which led them to investigate claims by two other woman alleging sexual assaults by Gale.
However, only two of the three assaults could be pursued due to legal limitations. Nonetheless, prosecutors intend to present the evidence of all crimes gathered against Gale, even though they can’t levy charges for all cases.
On June 24th, Gale was arraigned in both Piatt and Champaign counties facing a total of five counts of felony sexual assault which carry 30 years in prison if convicted. Judge Tom Difanis left Gale’s bond at $250,000 and he was ordered not to contact any of the victims. He was also ordered to hand over any weapons to the Illinois State Police.
After the hearing, State’s Attorney Julia Rietz stressed that she has “no evidence to suggest that any of the offenses charged had anything to do with his work as a Champaign or Monticello police officer.”
“We are confident in the strength of our evidence, which is why we have proceeded as we have,” said Rietz.
When asked why the victim waited to come forward, Rietz responded, “She’s a victim of sexual assault in a new relationship. I don’t know why she waited (to come forward.) I believe it happened at his residence in Champaign.”
— Aggravated criminal sexual assault, a Class X felony, alleging that he committed anal sex on the woman while holding her down, causing bodily harm, including a neck strain and a bruise to her arm. It carries a mandatory prison term of between six and 30 years upon conviction.
— Criminal sexual assault, a Class 1 felony carrying four to 15 years in prison upon conviction, also alleging the sex act by the use of force.
— Aggravated domestic battery alleging that he held her down and choked her during the sexual assault. It’s a Class 2 felony carrying penalties ranging from probation to three to seven years in prison.
This past Friday, two weeks after Gale’s arrest, as he gets acquainted to his new legal representation and life behind bars, Rietz piled on two additional felony counts of sexual assault as another victim came forward. That brings to total felony counts to seven, and the number of total victims to four.
Rietz said that the prior charges against Gale empowered the woman to come forward and make her assault part of the mounting evidence against the disgraced cop. The woman is alleging that Gale became sexually violent after she refused to have sex with him.
“She reported an assault that occurred in the early part of November 2014 at her home in which he wanted to have sex. She did not want to have sex with him. She reported that he pulled her pants off, held her down by the wrists, and by the use of force, started having oral sex with her, and despite her telling him no, only stopped when she threatened to call 911. She reported that her neck and back hurt the next day,” Rietz said.
Despite the new charges against him, and the violent nature of the alleged crimes, Gale and his attorney are seeking a bond reduction in what appears to be a last ditch effort for Gale to enjoy a bit of freedom before being locked away for a good portion of his life. Gale’s lawyer lays out a record resembling one of a choir boy in an attempt to gain leniency from the judge:
He has never previously been charged with a crime; that he is a full-time Champaign police officer and serves as a field training officer; that he was raised in Fairfield, Illinois, by his mother and grandmother, who still live in that community; that while in Fairfield High School, he was a member of the band, football, tennis, basketball and scholastic teams; that he wrote an essay on what America means to him that won him the honor of placing a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery; that he attended the University of Illinois and received his bachelor’s degree from Ashford University in Iowa; that he does not have a passport, which would make him a flight risk; and that he was named the 2014 officer of the year by the Champaign Police Department and also received a life-saving commendation from the department earlier this year.[/box]
Gale is due back in court on Monday to address the bond reduction, but with new charges being filed since the original arraignment, it’s not likely the judge will take kindly to the news.
Studies suggest that domestic abuse among police officers is significantly higher than that of the general population. Romantic partners of police officers who find themselves a victim of abuse are presented with the irony of calling the very organization who breached their trust to hold their own bad actors accountable.
One study suggests that police violence usually leads to “informal” investigations, often off the books, which would minimize any formal findings to the low side.
“Cops typically handle cases of police family violence informally, often without an official report, investigation, or even check of the victim’s safety,” the summary continues. “This ‘informal’ method is often in direct contradiction to legislative mandates and departmental policies regarding the appropriate response to domestic violence crimes.” Finally, “even officers who are found guilty of domestic violence are unlikely to be fired, arrested, or referred for prosecution.”
The monopolistic nature of police departments and their associated police unions, coupled with their close financial ties to politicians creates a perfect storm to harbor abuse and corruption. Luckily the veil of corruption is starting to be lifted with the advent of camera phones and a growing population of citizens who stand to expose the rigged game of modern day policing.
Stay tuned to Photography is not a Crime for future updates in this case.