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updated: 9/18/2012 4:22 PM

Teen gets 16 years for Palatine sex assault

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A Chicago teenager pleaded guilty Tuesday to sexually assaulting a 43-year-old Palatine jogger last year.

In exchange for his guilty plea to aggravated criminal sexual assault, a class X felony, 17-year-old Ja'Juan A. Junior received a 16-year prison sentence from Cook County Judge Ellen Mandletort, who also ordered him to register as a sex offender.

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The sentence matches his age at the time of the assault, which occurred on June 30, 2011, in the vicinity of 1400 Evergreen Drive in Palatine.

Although Junior was a juvenile at the time, the circumstances of the attack required an automatic transfer to adult court, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Gerber.

The victim was jogging about 10:15 p.m. when Junior grabbed her from behind and covered her mouth and nose, making it difficult for her to breathe, Gerber said. Junior, of the 2700 block of South Dearborn St., ordered the victim not to scream then dragged her to a nearby berm where he raped her, Gerber said. He also threatened her and told her he knew where she lived, Gerber said.

Weeks later, on Aug. 15, 2011, a similar attack took place against another woman in Palatine. Junior was arrested within hours and charged as a juvenile with criminal sexual assault in that case, Gerber said. DNA taken from Junior at the time matched DNA recovered from the first victim, Gerber said, adding that linking Junior to both attacks amounted to "good crime solving."

Mandletort was aware of Junior's pending juvenile case, said defense attorney Tim Eckerman. Junior, who admitted assaulting the second woman, intends to plead delinquency in the juvenile case, but will not receive additional prison time, Eckerman said.

Junior received credit for his 302 days in custody. He must complete at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.

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