Family and friends of a 17-year-old girl who for years was sexually abused by a “trusted” family member embraced each other Thursday as 53-year-old David J. Tapley was handcuffed and escorted to the McHenry County Jail.
Jurors deliberated for about
3½ hours before returning with guilty verdicts on three of four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse that Tapley faced.
He was found not guilty of abusing the girl at a family graduation party in May 2015.
Allegations that he inappropriately touched a young female relative first surfaced online, when the teen disclosed the abuse to friends on an internet forum.
The accusations made their way to authorities, who arrived at the victim’s doorstep in the summer of 2015, when nearly five years of sexual abuse finally came to an end for the young girl, prosecutors said in their closing arguments.
Lacking physical evidence and eyewitnesses, however, the girl’s claims were nothing more than “fantasy and finger-pointing,” defense attorney Francisco Botto said.
“This trial is a sequel, or a byproduct of [the victim’s] online fantasy, but for David, this trial is as real as life itself,” Botto said.
McHenry County Judge James Cowlin ordered Tapley to undergo a sex offender evaluation before his Nov. 19 sentencing.
Because the victim was younger than 13 when some of the abuse took place, Tapley, of Crystal Lake, faces a maximum of 14 years in prison.
Testimony began Tuesday, with the now-17-year-old victim as the state’s first witness, alongside her a hotly contested service dog.
“I didn’t realize it was anything out of the ordinary or unusual,” the girl said of the abuse that began in 2010, when she was 8 or 9 years old.
Throughout the trial, Tapley’s family members, including his 90-year-old mother-in-law, said they never saw him alone with the victim during family events, bike rides or rides home from rehearsal for the Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church children’s choir in Cary.
Tapley was accused of using those opportunities to sexually abuse the girl in concealment around other children, who were distracted by the “treats” and video games their “fun” relative provided, prosecutors said.
“We’re not saying he was alone with [the victim] when these things happened,” McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said.
Tapley often kept younger relatives’ favorite candy within reach. During car rides home from church choir practice, he was prepared with Red Vines, Werther’s and Heath bars – candies that were forbidden in some of the families’ households because of one relative’s severe peanut allergy.
Questioned about how often he gave the children candy during the carpool, Tapley admitted “probably every time” because “candy is delicious.”
He grew visibly frustrated during the state’s questioning, saying “goodness gracious” and calling the accusations a “sickening” act.
“I did not do that, no,” he said. “I would not do that.”
Members of Tapley’s family and other defense witnesses declined to comment on the verdict Thursday.
The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office previously offered to dismiss several counts if he pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
The negotiated plea would have resulted in two years of probation and 180 days in jail.
Tapley turned down the offer and said it would be dishonest to accept the plea deal because he was not guilty.