JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announced Friday that a Lockport man has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman who was walking to work near downtown Lockport last year.
Leo James Lacey, 29, of the 2700 block of Lawrence Avenue, Lockport, attacked the 19-year-old woman in the early-morning hours of Aug. 18, 2005 on State Street between 17th and Division streets. Lacey was sentenced one year to the day after the attack.
Lacey pleaded guilty before Associate Judge Robert Livas in June to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, which is a Class X felony.
The woman was walking at about 4:30 a.m. to a downtown convenience store where she had been working for about a week when Lacey came from behind and told her he was holding a knife to her back. Lacey viciously forced her to a grassy area with a choke hold where he sexually assaulted her.
Lacey fled on foot after the attack, leaving the young woman lying in the grass. The victim rushed to work and called police to report the sexual assault.
Lockport Detective William Sheehan worked the case for three months and identified Lacey as a suspect. In November 2005, Sheehan interviewed Lacey, who agreed to give a sample of his saliva for testing. The DNA in Lacey’s saliva matched DNA from semen collected at the crime scene and from the victim.
In December, the woman identified Lacey in a photo lineup of suspects.
“Detective Sheehan aggressively worked this case and gave us the evidence we needed to take an insidiously opportunistic sexual predator off Lockport’s streets for the next 18 years,” Glasgow said. “His rock-solid detective work left no doubt who committed this vicious attack.”
The state’s attorney also praised the young woman for having the courage and presence of mind to contact police immediately and give them an accurate and detailed account of her sexual assault. Shortly after giving her statement to police, she went to the hospital where she was examined by physicians for signs of sexual assault and where additional physical evidence was collected.
“Leo James Lacey is a wretched coward who physically overpowered his victim to satisfy his deviant sexual cravings,” Glasgow said. “But this woman stopped being a victim the minute she contacted police and began working with them to identify her attacker. She fought back with grit and determination not only for herself, but to help ensure the safety of every woman in the county.”
Glasgow also credited Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Platek for securing the guilty plea that led to Friday’s sentence. Platek presented the factual basis for the plea and the factors in aggravation to Judge Livas.