SYCAMORE – The victim’s parents asked for the maximum of 67 years in prison. Prosecutors suggested 20 years; the defense attorney suggested the 15-year minimum.
But Presiding Judge Robbin Stuckert sentenced Jimmy Reiss, 42, of Sycamore, to 18 years in prison Tuesday for sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl in September 2011. After he is released, state corrections officials will determine how long he will be on parole, and he will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Reiss, of the 1800 block of Raintree Court, was a longtime family friend of the victim and abused her Sept. 17, 2011, while Reiss and a 16-year-old were supervising her, authorities said. A four-day trial in April 2013 resulted in a hung jury, but jurors convicted him of predatory criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse after a three-day trial in January.
The victim, now 10, has Asperger’s syndrome and has trouble communicating, but testified at both trials. She is plagued with nightmares, worries of being pregnant and is undergoing counseling, her parents and prosecutors said.
Her father asked for a stiff prison sentence to protect other children; the Daily Chronicle is not naming the parents to avoid revealing the victim’s identity.
“It is not by mistake that Jim Reiss chose this somewhat meek, shy and awkward little girl who has challenges communicating,” the girl’s father told Stuckert. “He selected her as his prey for his dirty deeds as he believed that he would be able to impose his will on her without fear of consequences. Jim Reiss is a child sexual predator.”
During the sentencing hearing, her mother wondered what lasting effects the abuse would have.
“How will she relate to men and boys as her life progresses?” her mother asked. “Will the first time a boy tries to hold her hand, asks her out, tries to put his arm around her, or tries to give her her first kiss be moments of joy or terror? We cannot know. The only thing we do know is that those moments will never be what they should have been.”
Reiss did not speak on his own behalf, but defense attorney John Callahan submitted several letters supporting Reiss, including one from a co-worker at Kishwaukee Hospital that described how Reiss occasionally bought meals for families who had been waiting in the emergency room for a long time.
Callahan, who did not represent Reiss during either of his trials, unsuccessfully appealed the verdict before Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. He argued that the previous attorney made mistakes advising Reiss on whether he should testify on his own behalf and on which witnesses to call during the trial, among other things. He also faulted him for not using an expert on Asperger’s syndrome. Stuckert denied his appeal.