Child molester found guilty on 21 counts
After little more than an hour of deliberations Thursday, a McHenry County jury found a 56-year-old man guilty on 21 counts of sexually abusing and assaulting two children over a span of about 13 years.
Robert Gould, who lived in Island Lake and Woodstock during the years prosecutors say he committed the crimes, was found guilty of three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child younger than 13, eight counts of criminal sexual assault and 10 counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child.
Gould, whose bond was immediately revoked, was taken into the custody of the McHenry County jail. He faces decades in prison when sentenced on Jan. 27.
His accusers, now 23 and 25 years old, wept in the courtroom surrounded by supporters, as Judge Michael Coppedge read "guilty" on each of the 21 counts.
In closing arguments, prosecutors told jurors that Gould sexually abused and assaulted the two young girls for years beginning in 2001 and that their memories were reality, not false as the defense alleged.
Defense attorney, Dominic Buttitta Jr., said in his closing arguments this was "a case of mental illness and struggles to distinguish nightmares and dreams from reality."
However, Assistant State's Attorney Tyler Mikan began his closing arguments repeating what one of the women said on the stand this week during trial:
"'He touched me. I couldn't say no,'" he said. "Theirs are the first words of this trial and should be the last. You heard what he did, ... horrible, unspeakable acts."
Mikan said they were "innocent and helpless" when he isolated them and said they were playing a game as he sexually abused and assaulted them.
The abuse and sexual assaults became more intense, painful, threatening and physical as they aged, according to trial testimony. Each said there were times they tried to fight him off and they were tied down, one with a comforter, the other with a towel.
The women reported the abuse in 2016 when they were in their mid- to late teenage years, after moving to Canada. It was only then, prosecutors said, that they felt safe enough to speak out.
"He is nothing short of guilty," Mikan said, asking jurors "what motivation, what benefit do these girls get for making this up? They are ... living productive lives away from him. What do they gain by facing the man (in court) that ruined their childhood. If they are making this up, give them an Oscar right now."
Their recovered memories of the abuse, supported by Shelley Pier, an expert called by the prosecution, also included details of smells, what they were wearing and feeling, and what was going on around them, including violent abuse at the hands of Gould.
Buttitta said the allegations were the product of poorly trained psychotherapists who erroneously told the women their flashbacks were real memories of being sexually abused and assaulted.
He also told jurors that the prosecution "failed" in presenting any mental health diagnosis, historic sexual assault medical exams or therapy records to prove the allegations.
In asking the jury to acquit Gould, Buttitta quoted statements the women had made about their memories of the abuse.
"'I think, I believe, I'm pretty sure, I blocked a lot of this out, I dissociated,'" Buttitta said.