Chicago man gets 120 years for Elgin rape

Updated 8/25/2011 5:57 PM

A 43-year-old Chicago man was sentenced Thursday to 120 years in prison for raping and beating an elderly Elgin woman.

"It is the court's intention that this defendant never again be a free man. He is a danger to civilized society," Kane County Judge Timothy Sheldon said as he imposed the maximum sentence for home invasion and aggravated criminal sexual assault.

It took a jury about 90 minutes in June to convict Rodney McGowan of breaking into the apartment of a 75-year-old widow and raping her in April 2010.

Elgin police were clued in on McGowan because they saw him on a security tape leaving the victim's apartment.

Police also found McGowan's fingerprints on the woman's bedroom window and a used condom tucked in the couch with McGowan's semen on the inside and the victim's DNA on the outside.

The victim has since moved to Wisconsin and didn't speak at Thursday's sentencing, but Sheldon read excerpts from a letter she wrote about how she lives in constant fear and pain in her face from the attack, which broke her orbital bone and made her unable to wear her dentures.

"When (McGowan) did all that to me, he almost destroyed me and my children," read part of the letter. "I'm scared of everything."

McGowan, who was released from an Arkansas prison in 2006 after serving 20 years for robbery and kidnapping, had a chance to apologize. He did -- sort of.

"I'm deeply sorry about what happened to that woman. I had nothing to do with it," McGowan said. "If something like that happened to my mom, I couldn't stomach that."

Under law, McGowan must serve 85 percent of his sentence, or 102 years.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon credited Elgin police Detective David Baumgartner for investigating the case along with prosecutors Joe Cullen and Reagan McGuire.

"People have a right to feel safe inside their own homes, and anyone who would so ruthlessly and deliberately violate that sanctity and then sexually assault a senior citizen does not ever again deserve to breathe a breath of fresh air as a free man," McMahon said in a statement.

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