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Decatur man who repeatedly raped girl sentenced to 9 years in prison
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Decatur man who repeatedly raped girl sentenced to 9 years in prison


DECATUR — A Decatur man, who used the knowledge that the girl’s mother disbelieved his sexual assaults were taking place as cover to continue raping the victim for years, was sentenced to nine years in prison Tuesday.

Antwain J. Ward, 35, appeared in Macon County Circuit Court and pleaded guilty to one count of the predatory criminal sexual assault of a child under 13, a Class X felony. The normal sentencing range would be from six to 60 years, but Ward took a plea deal negotiated by his public defender, Tiffany Senger, that capped the sentence range at 10 years and saw another predatory criminal sexual assault charge dismissed.

In a sworn affidavit in the case, Decatur police had described a pattern of repeated rapes and assaults dating back to when the child was in first grade and continuing for several years. The offenses came to light in 2017 when the girl’s mother learned of them and took the child to Decatur Memorial Hospital for a physical examination.

Macon County Assistant State’s Attorney Kate Kurtz urged Judge Thomas Griffith to impose the full 10 years the plea deal allowed. She said the child's mother had not believed her daughter about the assaults. 

“This defendant’s conduct was horrific,” she said. “The child tried to tell, and when her mom didn’t believe her, this defendant used that power that he had over her and her mother to then continue to abuse her for years.

“That conduct is egregious and horrific and 10 years is not unreasonable and, quite frankly, it’s rather low.”

The girl herself, in a victim impact statement, also pleaded for Ward to get maximum prison time.

“I had trouble sleeping because I never knew when he was going to come into my room,” she wrote in a letter read to the court. “Today, I still struggle to be around men and people I do not think I can trust.”

Senger argued for a six- to seven-year sentence and pointed to Ward’s lack of a significant criminal record and his willingness to plead guilty and own up to what he had done.

“He has pled guilty and accepted responsibility for his actions in this courtroom,” Senger said. “He has not stood before this court and made excuses or made a pony show out of this situation.”

Griffith acknowledged Ward’s relatively clean criminal history and his guilty plea but said the severity of the crime had to be acknowledged.

“I consider your conduct to be horrific, despicable, vile and any other adjective you can throw in there for essentially violating a young girl,” the judge said. “Regardless of what I do or what anyone states in court today, this child is going to suffer for the balance of her life.”

In addition to the prison sentence, to be served at 85 percent, Ward was ordered to register as a sexual predator for life.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to clarify how police said the offenses came to light. 

2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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