By the time Salvador Alvarado returned to apologize, his rape victim had already abandoned her home in West Chicago -- too terrified to return to the place where she was snatched off a toilet and repeatedly violated.
But her quick actions in those traumatic moments -- including inviting her intruder back again -- eventually helped bring the mentally ill man to justice, authorities said Tuesday as he was sent to prison.
DuPage County Judge Kathryn Creswell sentenced Alvarado, 40, to 28 years in prison for the September 2008 attack. He had pleaded guilty but mentally ill in March, after months of treatment for depression at an Elgin mental hospital.
"I hope the lady will be able to understand and comprehend and forgive me in the future," Alvarado told the court Tuesday through a Spanish interpreter. "I understand it is a crime that is very humiliating."
Assistant State's Attorney Ann Celine O'Hallaren said Alvarado told investigators he was "hot and horny" when he spotted the 54-year-old victim through a window as she slept on a couch in the late evening hours, recovering from surgery earlier that day to replace both knees.
After sneaking through an open back door, she said, Alvarado looked at pornography on the victim's computer for 20 to 30 minutes, then attacked the victim as she used the toilet.
O'Hallaren said Alvarado threw the victim to the floor, injuring her back, and repeatedly assaulted her while muffling her screams. Afterward, he carried her to her bed, apologized and asked to be her boyfriend.
Prosecutors said the victim was in fear for her life and acting on instinct when she invited her rapist to return the next day. She also memorized details of his clothes and characteristics of his face, which aided in a police sketch.
"She knew he would be back," O'Hallaren said.
Police arrested Alvarado, who lived near the victim, about two weeks later outside her home. He told authorities he wanted to have sex with the victim again and tell her he was sorry, prosecutors said.
Alvarado's public defender, Mark Lyon, told the judge his client suffers from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and has dependency issues with alcohol and inhalants. The night of the attack, he said, Alvarado was experiencing a full psychiatric episode.
Authorities said Alvarado went to Elgin Mental Health Center for treatment shortly after the attack because he was suicidal. He returned to the victim's home and was arrested a day after he was released.
"This is a sick man," Lyon said. "He was even sicker then."
In sentencing Alvarado, the judge noted the defendant's history of severe mental illness, including auditory and visual hallucinations, as well as his repeated attempts to express remorse. She said sentences in cases with such unique circumstances were unlikely to discourage others from committing the same crime.
"There really isn't the same deterrent effect when you're talking about a deterring someone with a mental illness," she said.
In a statement read to the court, the victim said she also fell into a deep depression after the attack, eventually losing her home and her job.
"After Sept. 21, 2008, my life was over," she said. "I never slept in my house again. I was afraid to go out, and I just cried all the time."
By law, Alvarado, who is not a legal U.S. citizen, must serve 85 percent of his sentence, or about 24 years. His attorney said he is likely to be deported to Mexico upon his release.