Downers Grove man who gave fatal dose to foreign exchange student gets 24 years

  • Francis Emanuele

    Francis Emanuele

Updated 2/22/2019 9:53 PM

A Downers Grove man who provided a fatal dose of methadone to a 15-year-old Spanish foreign exchange student he was hoping to sexually assault is headed to prison.

DuPage County Judge Liam Brennan sentenced 38-year-old Francis Emanuele to 20 years Friday night for the drug-induced homicide of the girl and another four years for the indecent solicitation of a child charge Emanuele pleaded guilty to last November.


"This defendant used drugs to sexually molest (the victim)," Brennan said. "And he used drugs to bring about his desire to sexually molest (the victim)."

Prosecutors sought a 27-year sentence while Emanuele's attorneys asked for 11 years.

Emanuele, who is married and has two young daughters, hosted a 17-year-old Spanish foreign exchange student at Downers Grove South from August 2015 through May 5, 2016. During that time, he met and became attracted to her 15-year-old friend, who attended Glenbard South.

Brennan said Emanuele used his grooming relationship with his guest student to eventually groom the victim for a "sexual conquest."

In early spring 2016, Emanuele began preparing for a way to spend the day having sex with the victim at her host family's Glen Ellyn home.

A recovering heroin addict, Emanuele coached the victim, on the night of May 2, 2016, to take 5 milliliters of his methadone so she could fake being sick and spend the next day with him.

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On May 3, 2016, the victim told her host parents in Glen Ellyn that she felt too ill to attend school and returned to her bedroom. When the parents returned from work, at about 6:40 p.m. that day, she was found unresponsive and not breathing in her bed.

The girl's host parents immediately called Glen Ellyn police, who led the investigation into her death.

Detective Kyle Duffie testified during the two-day sentencing hearing that while searching the girl's bedroom investigators found an oral syringe and a prescription bottle, each containing a small amount of clear liquid later determined to be methadone.

Prosecutors said half the label of the prescription bottle had been removed and the missing part later was found in Emanuele's car. Emanuele had a valid prescription for the drug.

"As a result of (Emanuele's) actions, the promising life of a young girl came to a tragic end at the tender age of 15," DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said in a written statement. "To the family and friends she left behind, I offer my sincerest condolences, as they must now continue their lives without the love and friendship they once enjoyed with this young girl."


The victim's parents, who attended the hearing and used headphones to listen to an interpreter, read victim impact statements in Spanish, which were translated to English.

Her mother, who said the girl was enjoying her time so much that she wanted to spend another year here, called the death a shock.

"It's an amputation of the heart. It's a void that nothing or no one call fill," she said through an interpreter. "No one can prepare you for the death of your child. It is unnatural. Part of me died that day."

The victim's host father described his family's love for the girl was as if she were their biological child and his disgust at Emanuele's actions.

"We're proud to be Americans and we wanted to show her what our country could offer," he said. "Instead she met the worst and most evil of our society."

The victim's family has filed a lawsuit seeking monetary damages, in addition to medical, funeral and burial costs from Francis Emanuele, his wife and the California-based Council for Educational Travel United States of America.

The lawsuit alleges that Daniella Emanuele was negligent for leaving the girl in the care of her husband, who "had the propensity to act in a negligent, violent and sexually explicit manner toward minor children, including (the victim)."

The suit also alleges the Council for Educational Travel had the duty to "supervise, maintain and monitor the condition" of the Emanuele's home as well as their conduct.

Emanuel must serve a total of about 17 years before being eligible for parole.

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