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Oliver convicted of Woodstock Craigslist rape

Published: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 11:54 a.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, March 1, 2014 12:21 a.m. CDT
Caption
Charles Oliver, accused of rape in Woodstock.

WOODSTOCK – Steve Block was the fake name Charles Oliver used when he sought prostitutes on Craigslist.

Steve Block, Oliver told police, was the name of a playground bully from his childhood.

“Was [Oliver’s] bedroom the playground?” Assistant State’s Attorney Kate Lenhard asked. “And who’s the bully now?”

After deliberating for three hours, jurors on Friday found that Oliver raped women by threatening them so they would perform certain sexual acts.

The 12-person jury – four women and eight men – returned a guilty verdict, convicting Oliver of criminal sexual assault and unlawful restraint.

It was the end of a weeklong trial that included sexually explicit video footage of Oliver and the woman engaged in sex acts.

But it’s not over yet. In all, Oliver is charged in eight cases with raping women.

Each will be tried separately, with the next trial set for March 31.

“Seven more to go,” Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said outside the courtroom.

“We have 31 days,” defense attorney Jeff Altman said.

On the witness stand, the victim said she agreed to sex acts with Oliver for $200. He picked up the Chicago woman from the Rosemont train station and drove her to Woodstock.

Once at Oliver’s home, he led the 23-year-old to a basement laundry room that was locked from the outside. There, he took her by the head and forced her to the ground, she said.

She said she was afraid for her life.

“I begged with him to let me go,” the woman said. “I was begging him to please not hurt me, to let me go.”

Prosecutors argued she only submitted to sex with Oliver out of that fear.

“[The alleged victim] was broken,” Lenhard said. “She thought that the only way she could leave that room was if she did what the defendant said to do.”

Oliver recorded his sexual encounter with the woman. The 12-minute video was played for jurors. And when it was over, he copied the woman’s driver’s license.

In the defense’s closing arguments, attorney Mark Facchini said the sex acts on the video were consensual. He said the woman was a willing participant from the beginning: She responded to the Craigslist ad, she took the train to meet him, she got into his car, she went into his house. Previous testimony revealed she consented to a sex act with Oliver in the car and once at his house.

“This wasn’t some sort of casual hookup, this was a business transaction,” Facchini said.

Facchini also pointed out inconsistencies in statements of hers and those of another woman who also testified during the trial.

The second woman had a similar encounter with Oliver. She met him through a Craigslist ad, they agreed to sex for money, and he took her to the basement where Oliver got aggressive. He videotaped their sexual encounter, which also was played for jurors.

On the second video, the woman was heard saying she was scared, or telling Oliver no.

That woman lied to police on multiple occasions, initially telling them not that she met Oliver on Craigslist, but rather that she was kidnapped.

Oliver, 45, faces between nine and 33 years in prison. A sentencing date wasn’t set Friday, but attorneys said he likely won’t be sentenced until after his next trial.

McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather is presiding over this trial.

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