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Crime & Courts

Peoria man accused of raping fellow NIU student

The Jack Arends Visuals Arts Building on the Northern Illinois University campus is shown Monday afternoon.
The Jack Arends Visuals Arts Building on the Northern Illinois University campus is shown Monday afternoon.

SYCAMORE – A Northern Illinois University freshman was working on her final project, a charcoal portrait of a woman, in the arts building early Saturday when she sent a Snapchat message expressing her loneliness.

Charles L. Williams, 18, an NIU student from Peoria, responded to that message, showed up to entertain her, then bludgeoned her and raped her, the victim’s mother said Monday.

Williams has been charged with three counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, and three counts of aggravated battery. If convicted of counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, each is punishable by six to 30 years in prison, and he’d serve them consecutively, Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert said Monday, saying that he would not be eligible for probation. She set his bond and $75,000 and ruled that if he posts $7,500 bail to be released, he will be placed on electronic home monitoring.

Monday afternoon, the victim’s mother was in town from Chicago, taking pictures of the building at 330 Gilbert Drive, into which she said her daughter let Williams before 5 a.m. Saturday.

“If you ask me, it was premeditated,” the victim’s mother said. “He knew from that Snapchat that she was alone.”

NIU spokesman Joe King said the doors to the building are locked at 10:30 p.m., but students are allowed to stay inside and work after hours. He confirmed that Williams has not only been banned from setting foot on campus, but that he’s been banned from taking online courses, as well.

NIU police said in court records that before 5 a.m., Williams hit the victim twice in the head from behind with a glass vase, causing it to break, and then choked her. The victim said in the records that when she came to, Williams was assaulting her, he ultimately raped her, and that he threatened to kill her if she reported it to police.

Her mother said she suffered a concussion, which could lead to a discrepancy between police reports and what she’d heard from her daughter. The court records said Williams hit her over the head with a wood block in the arts building after he warned her not to speak to police. Her mother said she was told he dropped her off at the front door of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and threatened to kill her if she told police.

The records show Williams was questioned by NIU police, and confessed to hitting her with the vase and assaulting her.

The victim was back in the building Monday afternoon finishing her final work, her mother said.

“She wanted to go and get it over with,” she said. “She’s very strong.”

The university issued a statement midday Monday.

“NIU is offering its full support and resources to the courageous survivor,” it reads. “Sexual violence is a horrific crime and oftentimes goes unreported.”

The statement urges residents to report incidents of sexual assault to the NIU police at 815-753-1212 and the DeKalb Police Department at 815-748-8400.

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