Crime & Courts

Woodstock man sentenced to 7 years for kidnapping 13-year-old girl

Ericsson J. Gumesindo, 21
Ericsson J. Gumesindo, 21

WOODSTOCK — A Woodstock man was sentenced to seven years in prison for kidnapping a 13-year-old girl and sexually assaulting her while she was intoxicated.

Ericsson J. Gumesindo, 21, pleaded guilty in May to one count of aggravated kidnapping. He faced up to 30 years in prison.

McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer said during a sentencing hearing Thursday that while he considered the nature and circumstances of the offense, he also recognized that Gumesindo was 18 years old at the time of the incident and had no criminal record.

“It is my hope and prayer that the victim can rebound from this,” Feetterer said.

Gumesindo is required to serve 85 percent of his sentence, and he likely will be deported to Mexico after he is released from prison. He also will have to register as a sex offender in the U.S. because the kidnapping charge was found to be sexually motivated, the judge said.

Gumesindo was being held in the McHenry County Jail without bond after he was picked up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials earlier this year while out of jail. Prosecutors said immigration officials intended to deport him shortly after they issued an order at the end of April. Feetterer revoked his bond so he could stay in jail until the case was resolved.

Gumesindo was arrested in July 2014 and charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, residential burglary, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping and possessing a stolen motor vehicle.

Woodstock police were called July 29, 2014, to the home of a 13-year-old who was reported missing.

Police were taking a kidnapping report when Gumesindo drove up in a vehicle, which had been reported stolen, to drop off the heavily intoxicated girl, Assistant State’s Attorney Dave Johnston previously said in court.

Two days earlier, Gumesindo’s friend let him drive a vehicle belonging to her father, and he went into Walmart to secretly make a copy of the ignition key, Johnston said.

Late on July 28, Gumesindo was hanging out and drinking alcohol with the 13-year-old’s older sister and another group of teenagers at her house. They were kicked out by the girls’ father, and the younger girl was put to bed, but the older sister left with the group of boys, Johnston said. The 13-year-old was so intoxicated, Johnston said, that her father found her passed out on the lawn covered in vomit.

As they were driving around town, Gumesindo is believed to have dropped off the group – including the older sister – on the side of the road and went back to the 13-year-old’s house, where he cut a screen, broke a window and took the girl from the home, Johnston said.

Authorities believe the sexual assault happened at a nearby park when she was drifting in and out of consciousness, he said.

Several friends and family members spoke on Gumesindo’s behalf during the sentencing hearing, describing him as a genuine, caring person who often did kind things for others without expecting anything in return.

Janely Sanchez, Gumesindo’s girlfriend, said the two met at a high school dance and have been together ever since. She said Gumesindo treated her with respect and kindness and she considered him to be very down to earth.

“He’s just a very genuine, caring person. … He was just one person I could always count on,” Sanchez said.

These depictions contrasted the picture Johnston painted of Gumesindo the night of the incident.

When arguing for a prison sentence between 15 to 30 years, Johnston said the defendant’s actions were unthinkable and hard to reconcile with some of the comments made by Gumesindo’s peers at Thursday’s sentencing hearing. He said Gumesindo’s “relentless pursuit” of the 13-year-old girl “forced her into a life of pain.”

“He saw that she was vulnerable, he saw that she was intoxicated, he saw he could do what he wanted to do with her because of her condition,” Johnston said. “I can’t say that the defendant ruined the life of the victim, but we know he changed it.”

The victim’s sister took the stand and spoke on her family’s behalf. She said Gumesindo’s actions “acted like a bulldozer” to her family’s life, but the victim remained strong through it all.

“The night you took my sister my heart broke, and it has yet to heal. … It may never heal,” she said.

Gumesindo’s lawyer, Francisco Botto, said while his client did something wrong and pleaded guilty to the charge, “He was not the monster the state tried to portray.”

He said he believed the likelihood his client would be rehabilitated was very high.

When given the opportunity to speak, Gumesindo apologized for his actions and recognized the pain he’s caused the victim and their family. He said while he knows a lot of people see him as a menace to society, he pointed to the fact that he maintained a job before and after his arrest while out on bond, re-enrolled in high school and graduated in 2015.

He said once he finishes his prison sentence he will “continue to grow as a positive person with good morals.”

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