Crime & Courts

Craigslist rapist gets 36-year sentence

Charles Oliver
Charles Oliver

WOODSTOCK – Charles Oliver will be well into his 70s by the time he’s eligible for parole for raping women he met on Craigslist and other websites.

A McHenry County judge on Thursday handed down a 36-year prison sentence for the Woodstock man, and in doing so, called him a “predator” who sought vulnerable women.

Oliver’s accusers were prostitutes or escorts. There were eight victims in all.

“You made a choice to prey on young women, women you believed wouldn’t go to the police,” Judge Sharon Prather said.

In February, Oliver was found guilty of criminal sexual assault and unlawful restraint in what attorneys expected to be the first of eight trials. In March, he eventually pleaded guilty to two additional sex crimes and the remaining charges were dropped.

Prosecutors also agreed not to bring any further charges based on evidence recovered from the investigation – namely photographs and videos of unidentified women.

Prather said she had the “displeasure” of watching videos of Oliver’s sexual encounters that police uncovered after Oliver’s January 2013 arrest. She said she “saw the fear and terror in the faces of those women.”

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutors played recorded jail phone calls from Oliver. On one he discussed his possible prison sentence and said, “I should have killed them, it would have been easier.”

“It would have been easier than raping them?” Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said. “... That shows what this defendant is capable of.”

On the witness stand, a Chicago woman testified that she met Oliver on Craigslist and agreed to sex with him for $200. She met him at a train station, and he later took her to his Woodstock home. Once at his house, he led the 23-year-old to a basement room that was locked from the outside. Testimony revealed that he beat and threatened her.

“I begged with him to let me go,” Oliver’s accuser said on the stand. “I was begging him to please not hurt me, to let me go.”

A second witness told of a similar meeting with Oliver. She met him through a Craigslist ad, agreed to sex for money and was roughed up and threatened in his basement.

Outside the courtroom, defense attorney Jeff Altman said Oliver plans to appeal the verdict and sentence.

Altman asked for the minimum 20 years. Prosecutors had offered Oliver 35 years if he agreed to plea before trial. He faced up to 93 years after rejecting the state’s offer.

“These women were prostitutes,” Altman said Thursday. “… This conduct is what they agreed to.”

It’s that line of thinking that a legal advocate for victims of sexual assault said makes cases such as Oliver’s difficult to prosecute.

“People are paying for sex, so it’s hard to prove that somebody was raped because it’s almost like a business deal,” said Mary Blume from the Crystal Lake-based CARE Center.

“But that doesn’t give someone the right to treat them the way [Oliver] did,” she said.
Oliver’s sentences will be served consecutively and at 85 percent. In other words, he will be at least 74 years old when he’s eligible for parole.

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