A judge issued an 8-year prison sentence Wednesday to a mom who pleaded guilty to allowing her then boyfriend to severely beat her toddler daughter in a St. Charles hotel room in October 2010.
Cathleen Koch, 30, of Elgin, lied to police and covered for James Cooper, 29, of Elburn, who got a 15-year sentence in the beating of Molly Koch, who will be 4 this November. Molly has brain damage and permanent disabilities.
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Koch pleaded guilty this summer to felony aggravated domestic battery and obstructing justice as authorities argued that even though she did not hit Molly, she should be held accountable because she did not stop Cooper.
"(Cathleen Koch) has never demonstrated to the court that she accept any responsibility whatsoever for what happened to Molly. The defendant violated the very first duty of a parent. She failed to protect her child," Judge Timothy Sheldon said. "Molly's life has changed forever. She is permanently handicapped and her development is delayed."
Koch asked Sheldon for mercy, saying she has since taken parenting classes and attended counseling in an effort to strengthen herself and to be a better parent to her 10-month-old son, who was born while Koch was free on bond.
"I can't change what happened in the past, but I am a stronger person now," Koch said. "I realize I should have never lied to the police. They were there to protect us. I wish I would have been able to bring myself to help my daughter. Everything happened so fast."
Defense attorney Liz Lovig asked for the minium 60 days jail time and probation. She argued that the charges against Koch were based on hindsight and that Koch had never encountered the type of "evil" in Cooper before in her life.
Molly is in the care of Koch's estranged husband, David, and attends physical, occupational and speech therapy sessions. Doctors testified in court that Molly will never lead a normal life on her own, cannot use her right arm and will only be able to work at a job with limited responsibilities, such as a greeter at a department store.
Assistant State's Attorney Joe Cullen argued for a severe sentence, saying Molly's injuries warranted an extended prison term of up to 14 years.
Cullen pointed to instances of abuse leading up to the Oct. 27, 2010, beating in which Koch could have left Cooper, a heroin addict. Cullen said Koch was texting her estranged husband less than a day before Molly's beating, but never called police. Koch's family even had an intervention a month beforehand, but Koch was defiant.
"How much do people have to beg to have to her take Molly to safety? She could have acted. She chose not to," Cullen said. "The defendant simply is devoid of mercy and compassion in allowing this to happen."
Sheldon also fired back at some of Koch's relatives, who wanted Koch to get probation and complained that the 15-year sentence that Cooper received earlier this year in a plea agreement should have been longer.
He said in cases like Molly's, the public always wants a severe sentence, unless it is their own relative in the defendant's chair.
"It's always missed that every defendant in this courtroom is somebody's relative," Sheldon said.
Koch must serve 85 percent of her sentence, or about six years and nine months.