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Crime & Courts

Tenured NIU professor sentenced to jail for third DUI

DeKALB – DeKalb County Judge Philip Montgomery could have sentenced a tenured Northern Illinois University professor to a year in jail for her third DUI conviction, but he instead landed on a month, and offered a poignant admonishment.

“The next time you think about taking a drink, think about whether you’d like to spend time drinking or spend time with your son,” Montgomery said. “You’re still a young woman, and you have a son at home who’s dependent on you.”

Trude A. Jacobsen, 44, of the 2200 block of Frantum Road in Sycamore, will begin her jail sentence June 15, and only would serve 15 days with day-for-day credit for good behavior. Jacobsen was convicted in December of aggravated DUI in connection with an April 2, 2017, incident, in which she was arrested with her 7-year-old child in the car. During the December trial, NIU spokesman Joe King said he was unaware of Jacobsen’s past convictions and that the university does not comment on legal matters.

Jacobsen also must pay a $1,000 fine, do 75 hours of counseling and attend a victim impact panel in July.

“I still believe in her innocence,” her lawyer, Ken Johnson, said after Wednesday’s sentencing. “But justice was served today.”

Jacobsen has been a tenured faculty member at NIU since August 2012, according to records obtained by the Daily Chronicle through a Freedom of Information Act request. Jacobsen teaches in NIU’s history department and specializes in Southeast Asian studies and gender and sexuality. She earns a salary of about $80,000 a year, plus about $14,000 in additional compensation, according to the Illinois Board of Higher Education. 

She previously was convicted twice of DUI charges in DeKalb County, first in connection with a January 2015 incident and again after an October 2017 arrest, according to DeKalb County court records. After the second conviction, Jacobsen served two days in jail and was sentenced to 18 months of nonreporting conditional discharge, 240 hours of public service and alcohol treatment, records show.

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