A man has asked to withdraw his blind guilty plea to sexually abusing a woman he met at a local club in 2017.
Scheduled for sentencing on theft and aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges Thursday morning, Blake Alberts and Assistant Public Defender Richard Behof went before a judge to say Alberts was “under duress” when he entered the plea in January, claiming he was focused on getting out of jail so he could see his ill father.
Behof asked to recuse himself from the case, because Alberts, of Arlington Heights, entered the plea against Behof’s advisement and now wished to go back on his deal with the state.
A term of the deal included releasing Alberts on a recognizance bond to receive a sex offender evaluation before his sentencing. He has been out of jail since Jan. 26. Withdrawing the plea would land Alberts back behind county bars, McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather said.
Behof said in court Thursday that a “second opinion” might help Alberts come to a final decision, and asked that Prather appoint a special public defender to the case.
Alberts will remain free on bond until his next court date May 21, when an official decision on his plea can be made.
His guilty plea originally was met with caution from Prather, who asked if Alberts had considered all his options.
“... Mr. Behof is a seasoned defense lawyer. You really should listen to him, Mr. Alberts,” Prather said at the time. “I’m not trying to tell you what to do, either. It’s your choice, sir.”
Alberts told the judge he understood but didn’t want to “go down to the prison for more than two years.”
The partial negotiation didn’t spell out the details of Alberts’ sentences, meaning he faced the general three- to seven-year prison range for the charge.
Behof was opposed to Alberts entering a blind plea in January, claiming trial would have been a better option.
“I think any other avenue was in his best interest,” Behof said at the Jan. 26 hearing. “Unfortunately, this isn’t juvenile court. I can’t make him do that, but this is against my advice.”
He was arrested after a woman told police that another man, Eric J. Elwell, held her down while Alberts raped her after a night out at Club 220 North in Lake in the Hills. Police said the men also stole jewelry. Elwell took a plea deal last month and was sentenced to four years in prison for theft.