Crime & Courts

Seneca man convicted of sexually assaulting 72-year-old

Paulsen awaits complex sentence at Dec. 29 hearing

A Seneca man was found guilty Wednesday of sexually assaulting a senior citizen while she slept in her home.

A La Salle County jury deliberated one hour and found 24-year-old Kevin Paulsen guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Paulsen, who was masked, showed no reaction at the reading of verdicts. He briefly glanced at the victim, seated in the spectator gallery, as he was brought in to court but then looked away.

“I’m just glad it’s over,” the victim said before leaving the courthouse.

Paulsen, who did not take the stand during the 2 1/2-day trial, will have an opportunity to address Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr. before sentencing on Dec. 29. Ottawa defense attorney Ryan Hamer deferred comment until sentencing.

Paulsen’s sentencing range is complex. By law, he’s required to serve any prison terms for sexual assault (range: 6-30 years) and sexual abuse (3-7 years) back-to-back. However, he’s eligible for probation for sexual abuse and would, if Ryan opts for prison, get day-for-day good time. The sex assault conviction, on the other hand, has a mandatory prison sentence and Paulsen must complete 85% of any time coming.

The case was launched when the victim, now 72, told police she was awakened in July 2020 to find her head covered in a blanket and a stranger assaulting her. She consented to a sexual assault kit at a nearby hospital and the samples went to a lab, which got a hit: Paulsen.

At trial, Hamer asked jurors to consider the possibility, however limited, Paulsen wasn’t a match. Prosecutors didn’t merely have the DNA results, however. There also was a recorded jail visit in which Paulsen was heard, while disputing some of the facts against him, to place himself at the crime scene.

After the verdict, Assistant La Salle County State’s Attorney Matt Kidder thanked and congratulated the La Salle County Sheriff’s Office and state police crime technicians for positively identifying Paulsen in a situation where the victim didn’t get a good look at her assailant.

Kidder also praised the jury for their quick verdict, which “certainly affirms how we felt about the case all along.”

“I’m sorry for what happened to the victim,” he allowed, “but I’m happy we got swift justice for her.”