440 years for ex-Ill. cop convicted of rape

Related article:
Sgt. charged with 4 rapes in Ill. college town

By David Mercer
The Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — A former police sergeant convicted of raping four women was sentenced to 440 years in prison Tuesday.

Jeff Pelo, formerly with the Bloomington police, slouched forward in his chair but otherwise didn't react as Judge Robert Freitag issued the sentence. Two victims and their families clapped in the McLean County courtroom.

Jurors deliberated for parts of three days in June before convicting the 17-year police veteran of 35 counts, including 25 counts of aggravated sexual assault.

Prosecutors used dozens of witnesses and evidence found in Pelo's home to portray him as a man obsessed with violent pornography who paradoxically wanted his victims to like him. They said his police computer login was used to research rape victims before the attacks, which occurred between 2002 and 2005.

Defense attorney Michael Rosenblat countered that the defense lacked any physical evidence incriminating Pelo. He filed a motion last month asking for a new trial, but Freitag denied it Tuesday.

Pelo has been jailed since his June 2006 arrest outside a woman's home. Another Bloomington officer spotted Pelo outside the home late on June 11, 2006, after the woman reported a prowler.

Pelo claimed he was shopping for a home for his mother-in-law. His wife backed up that claim, saying her husband often kept strange hours after working night shifts for years.

Pelo initially faced burglary and stalking charges, but over the next month three of the four rape victims identified him from photos as their attacker. Two of them also identified his voice as that of the man who raped them.

One of Pelo's victims testified that he was almost gentle at times, while another said took particular delight in learning, after he'd raped her, that she was pregnant.

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