'Officer Of The Year' Arrested, Charged With Sexually Assaulting Two Ex-Girlfriends

| by Nathaly Pesantez

A police officer from Champaign, Illinois, was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly sexually assaulting two women. He had been named "2014 Officer of the Year" just three months prior.

Officer Jerad Gale, 31, was arrested on Tuesday and arraigned on Wednesday in two Illinois counties, Illinois Homepage reports.

The charges he faces in Champaign County include aggravated criminal sexual assault, criminal sexual assault, and aggravated domestic battery against a 23-year-old woman in November 2013, according to The News-Gazette.

Wednesday’s session at the Champaign County Courthouse detailed some of the alleged crimes, including Gale anally penetrating the 23-year-old and trying to her by pressing her head into a pillow while covering her nose and mouth

In Piatt County, Gale has been charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault against a 27-year-old woman in July 2012. 

Officials say a third woman came forward and accused Gale of sexual assaulting her. Charges will not be filed for this alleged incident, as it exceeds Illinois’ statute of limitations laws. The third woman's incident allegedly occurred over three years ago.

The two victims were University of Illinois students at the time of the separate incidents, as was Gale. All three alleged victims were girlfriends of Gale. 

Champaign County’s State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said that she and Piatt County State’s Attorney Dana Rhoades have “no evidence to suggest that any of the offenses charged had anything to do with his work as a Champaign … officer.”

Gale’s bonds in each county were ordered at $250,000. He is currently staying in Piatt County Jail and is due back in the two courts in July. 

If convicted for the charges against the 23-year-old Champaign woman, he could spend up to 30 years in jail, according to The News-Gazette. 

In May, after listening to Vice President Joe Biden’s campus speech on sexual assault, the 23-year-old went to the Women’s Resource Center on campus and spoke to a police officer there, The News-Gazette reported.

Illinois State police have been on the case since then, which led them to speak to the two other women claiming similar accusations against Gale. 

“We responded appropriately to a very difficult situation", UI Police Chief Jeff Christensen said. “Everyone was in the loop as it developed. Representatives of the Champaign Police Department and the Illinois State Police were notified and they were coordinated with Julia (Rietz).”

The two counties are reportedly working together to figure out which one should prosecute Gale first. He is due back in court on July 13.

Sources: Illinois Home Page, The News-Gazette, (2)
Photo Credit: The News-Gazette, City of Champaign