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Woodstock teen gets probation for role in sex crimes

Published: Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 11:41 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 29, 2014 11:57 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A Woodstock High School teenager who admitted to a sex act with a 15-year-old girl that his alleged accomplices recorded left the McHenry County Jail on Friday.

The felonies against 18-year-old James Cornelius were dropped in exchange for his guilty plea and his sworn testimony about the actions of others involved.

Cornelius pleaded guilty to criminal sexual abuse, a Class A misdemeanor, for a sexual act with the girl. The maximum sentence imposed on that charge is up to a year in the county jail.

He received two years of probation and 180 days in jail. With credit for time served since his arrest, he was released Friday, his attorney Special Public Defender Henry Sugden said.

“He was the least culpable,” Sugden said. “It was fair sentence based on his involvement, which was minimal.” Cornelius also must register as a sex offender for the next 10 years.

Before his plea was accepted Friday by McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather, Cornelius provided sworn testimony about a party he was at in December 2013 with the victim.

He said he and four other teenagers brought the girl – whom he saw was intoxicated, stumbling and slurring her words – into a room and closed the door.

Three of the boys then sexually assaulted her, he said, while two others filmed the encounter. The video was less than a minute long, Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said.

The sex acts were later posted to Facebook and used to intimidate the victim into further sex acts, authorities have said. The girl’s father notified police when he became aware of the social media posting.

The victim is from McHenry County, but did not attend school with the boys.

Corion V. Simpson, 18, also was charged as an adult. He is out on bond and is awaiting trial on criminal sexual assault charges. Simpson also had a court appearance Friday, in which a sex offender evaluation was ordered. At least one other teen was charged as a juvenile.

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