Man sent to prison over sexual assault of minors in Joliet, Bolingbrook

Rickie Brownson found guilty after 2nd trial in March

A Liberian immigrant who was convicted by a judge of sexually assaulting three underage girls almost a decade ago in Joliet and Bolingbrook was sentenced to prison.

Judge Carmen Goodman sentenced Rickie Brownson, 24, to 26 years in prison after she found him guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual assault following a bench trial on March 19.

He was under 17 when he sexually assaulted three 8-year-old girls between 2012 and 2013, according to the statement of facts.

The sentencing order said Brownson must serve 85% of the 26 years. He was also credited with serving 2,997 days in custody, putting his actual sentence at closer to 14 years.

A jury had previously found Brownson guilty of those charges in 2014 and he was sentenced to 38 years in prison. However, his case was sent back to Will County after he won an appeal in 2018 that determined he was entitled to a new trial.

In a 2-1 decision, the 3rd District Appellate Court ruled that at the trial presided over by former Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes, jurors were not asked if they understood and accepted that Brownson was presumed innocent of the charges against him and that his decision not to testify should not be held against him.

“This failure of the trial court constituted clear and obvious error,” Justice Mary McDade wrote.

Following Goodman’s sentencing, Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow said in a news release that “no prison sentence can undo the damage to these young victims caused by Brownson’s sickening conduct, but at least they can now move forward knowing that he is behind bars.”

“Sadly, child sexual abuse remains a hidden epidemic in our society. It is estimated that one in five girls and one in twenty boys is a victim of child sexual abuse,” Glasgow said. “These statistics will not change until as a society we recognize that this is a scourge on our nation’s children that needs to be taken seriously and addressed by leaders at the national, state, and local levels.”

During the 2014 jury trial, the victims had recanted their testimony from earlier court proceedings, victim interviews and medical examinations, but jurors reportedly believed they’d been forced to lie.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News