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McHenry man gets 24 years for sex crimes, has 8½ left

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 3:52 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 11:25 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A 75-year-old McHenry man convicted of sexually assaulting young girls nearly two decades ago was sentenced Wednesday to a total of 24 years in prison.

Jack Leo Smith has 8½ years remaining under sentencing guidelines when the crimes were committed, coupled with the time he’s served since his arrest in March 2010. A jail employee verified that Smith has been the longest-serving inmate in the McHenry County Jail.

Attorneys explained that the sentencing regulations for sex crimes were more lax in 1995 and 1996, when the crimes occurred. Smith was eligible for day-for-day credit sentencing.

“If the offenses were committed today, it would have been a mandatory life sentence,” Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said. Added Smith’s attorney, Public Defender Kim Messer, “You have to use the law at the time.”

Smith also had the choice to be sentenced under today’s sentencing laws.

He was found guilty in July of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse after a stipulated bench trial before McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather.

A sentencing hearing was held Sept. 4 but was continued to Thursday so legal issues surrounding the sentencing statute could be ironed out.

Three female victims – who are all now adults – lived in Smith’s neighborhood at the time of the abuse.

The women said Smith performed sex acts on them or had them reciprocate those acts.

He showed them pornographic films and magazines, explained sex acts to them and took nude photographs of the young girls.

At least one victim maintained a friendship with Smith for years after the abuse. Because of that, he was not a danger to the public, Messer said at Smith’s previous sentencing hearing.

“Clearly the public does not need protecting if the complaining witness herself continued to have a 15-year friendship with Mr. Smith,” Messer said.

Smith was described at trial as a “perverted grandpa” figure to the neighborhood children.

At the time of his arrest, authorities found piles of photographs of clothed children in his home, and personal writings in which he contended that children should be able to consent to sex.

“These events – although they occurred in the ’90s – still to this day are affecting all these girls,” Eisenstein said earlier this month. “… [Smith is] not taking any responsibility for his actions. Through his writing he made it clear he didn’t do anything wrong or that having sex with children is wrong.”

Smith’s abandoned home at 2811 Myang Ave. has remained vacant since his arrest and has come under fire from neighbors because of its dilapidated state.

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