Huntley man convicted of sexually assaulting a woman at house party sentenced to 13 years in prison

Inset of Christopher J. Rodriguez in front of Northwest Herald file of the McHenry County courthouse.

Before more than a dozen supporters Tuesday, a 30-year-old Huntley man was sentenced to 13 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman who authorities said was “unable to give consent” at a house party in 2018.

Christopher J. Rodriguez was found guilty by McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge following a bench trial in January on three counts felony criminal sexual assault and one count of criminal sexual abuse. Criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony, which typically carry sentences of four to 15 years.

Upon his release, which could be in 10 to 10 1/2 years based on truth-in-sentencing guidelines, Coppedge said he will be required to serve a mandatory supervised release for three years or up to natural life. He also must register as a sex offender for life.

In asking for an 18-year prison sentence, Assistant State’s Attorney Tyler Miken read an impact statement from the victim who was not present in the courtroom.

The woman wrote that she suffers post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety and that “there is not a day or night where I don’t remember” the sexual assault.

“You ruined my life,” the woman wrote. “I have literal flashbacks. I have to keep myself busy to keep my mind occupied” to not think about the assault.

She said the name Christopher, also the name of her therapist and brother, is a trigger as well as any mention of Huntley. The woman said she moved four hours away since the assault to try and not think about it. Still, she wrote, the trauma from what happened will last the rest of her life.

“I don’t hate you,” she said. “That would be too exhausting. You have already taken too much from me.”

Miken said the woman went to that house party to get away from men that night, but when Rodriguez saw she had been drinking alcohol and “could barely make it up the stairs,” he decided to “take advantage” of her. Miken said Rodriguez was “calculated and predatory,” waiting for others to go to sleep before going into her room.

Gal Pissetzky, Rodriguez’s defense attorney, asked Coppedge to “take into account who Christopher has been his entire life” and sentence him to 12 years in prison.

He pointed to the supporters in the courtroom and the 17 letters submitted to the judge written by family and friends in his support.

“Christopher is an outstanding young man with no criminal history,” Pissetzky said. “He has never gone to prison or jail or been accused aside from this.”

Rodriguez “has a big heart,” comes from a tight-knit family and has many friends and a girlfriend who love him, he said.

“[His girlfriend] believes he is a good-hearted man who will do no harm,” Pissetzky said. “He will not reoffend in the future. He has learned his lesson. He will have to register as a sex offender. No court will ever see him again.”

Rodriguez stood before the judge at a podium, spoke quietly, and said he was sorry and thanked his supporters. During the 67 days he has been in county jail since being convicted, he said he has been alone in his cell, has lost his faith and has been trying to regain it. He survives by the “compassion” he feels from his friends and family, he said.

Coppedge took a half-hour break to read the letters submitted on Rodriguez’s behalf. When he returned, he said he took note of the statements in the letters, saying Rodriguez has “integrity,” is a “caring individual” with a “compassionate heart.” Friends described him as “trusted, honest and genuine,” Coppedge said.

Coppedge said what Rodriguez’s mother wrote was “most telling.” She wrote that she wished she could “undo Oct. 18, [2018], so everyone could have peace,” causing her to cry out loud in the courtroom.

Coppedge said he wished the same, because what was done on Oct. 18, 2018, has caused “trauma” and “will resonate” with everyone’s lives, including the victim, his family and friends and Rodriguez himself.