Man convicted of sexually assaulting two children over a 13-year span sentenced to 126 years in prison

Victim says memory of abuse as a child was ‘pure terror and confusion’

Robert J. Gould, 56, looks back as members of the jury leave the courtroom Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, at the start of his trial before Judge Michael Coppedge. Gould, who was on McHenry County’s most wanted list when arrested in 2017, is accused of repeatedly sexually abusing two children throughout their childhoods beginning in 2001.

A man convicted of sexually abusing and assaulting two children over a span of 13 years while living in Island Lake and Woodstock was sentenced Friday to 126 years in prison.

Robert Gould, 56, actually will serve 95 years and four months under the state’s truth in sentencing rules, McHenry County Judge Michael Coppedge said.

Although Gould acknowledged he likely will die in prison, he continued to proclaim his innocence during Friday’s sentencing hearing.

A jury took little more than an hour in November to find Gould guilty on 10 counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, Class X felonies; aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child younger than 13, Class 2 felonies; and eight counts of criminal sexual assault, Class 1 felonies.

His victims, now 23 and 25 years old, appeared during the sentencing hearing on a monitor from a location in Canada and read prepared statements.

One said that her “first conscious memory” as a young child is of Gould molesting her. The woman said she remembers feelings of “pure terror and confusion.”

“I will spend the rest of my life carrying that memory and of 12 years of sexual abuse,” she said. “I have endured horror that no human being should have to, but I survived.”

The woman said she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, mood swings, flashbacks, depression, anxiety and sleep issues. She has had to learn that the abuse was not her fault, she said.

Although she still struggles, she said she refuses “to be defined” by the abuse.

The second victim also appeared on a monitor from Canada and through tears echoed much of the same experiences of sexual abuse in her thoughts and feelings. She said she twice tried to take her own life at the age of 17 to escape the abuse.

“For the first 17 years of my life, I was not a human being,” she said, adding that she was “a means to an end ... for a pedophile.”

“I was raped more times than I can count,” she said. “What I endured will haunt me for the remainder of my life.”

Gould, at times crying, also made a statement in allocution, and as he did during his trial, proclaimed his innocence and faith in God and quoted the Bible.

He said he was offered a plea deal by the state for a lighter prison sentence but turned it down because he did not want to admit to something he maintains he did not do.

After court Friday, Gould’s defense attorney Dominic Buttitta Jr. also said the state had made an offer.

“Prior to trial, the state offered a 12-year sentence to resolve the case, but Robert refused to plead guilty to something he didn’t do,” Buttitta said. “Robert maintained his innocence then and continues to maintain his innocence now.”

In his statement, Gould told his victims that he would continue to pray for them and pray for their reconciliation with God.

“Keep striving to be the best person you can be, and always seek God first,” he said to his victims.

Coppedge told Gould that he believes he is “a man of profound faith” and that he believes he will one day “confront the Almighty.”

But in the courtroom, Coppedge said, his “responsibility is to enforce the laws of man.”

Coppedge said he believed the victims and believed that the jury “was absolutely correct” in finding Gould guilty.

“There is no doubt in my mind these events occurred as [the victims] described,” Coppedge said.

During the trial, Buttitta argued that the state’s case was built on false statements and suggested memory enhancement by therapists.

“This is a case of mental illness and struggles to distinguish nightmares and dreams from reality,” Buttitta said during closing arguments at trial.

The victims testified that they were sexually abused and assaulted on multiple occasions from very young ages until they were teenagers and reported it.

At the time of his arrest in Canada, Gould was on McHenry County’s Most Wanted list.