Attorney: Solicitation case 'unique' because of St. Charles man's mental capacity
On the surface, it's a simple case: A 29-year-old St. Charles man sends minor teens lewd photos and videos over a gaming app.
A police officer poses as a minor, the man strikes up an online conversation that leads to a "meeting," and police arrest the man after allegedly traveling to a location for sex.
But the defense attorney for Peter I. Madsen, who was arrested in early October on felony charges of grooming, indecent solicitation of a child and traveling to meet a minor, says it's more complicated than that.
"It's a unique case because of the issues with his mental abilities," defense attorney Thomas Glasgow said. "We've got an extremely draconian criminal justice system in terms of the charges against Mr. Madsen. He doesn't understand adult issues, concepts like you or I would understand."
Glasgow acknowledged that Madsen, who was in Kane County court this week for a status hearing, sent the videos and walked to a St. Charles apartment on Oct. 3 in hopes of having sex with a girl who was 15.
If convicted of grooming and solicitation, Madsen could face up to three years in prison and must register as a sex offender for life.
However, Glasgow said, Madsen was born with profound learning disabilities, has the mental ability of a 5- or 6-year-old, and doesn't understand age concepts. Madsen can't drive, can operate a microwave but not a gas oven, and lives with his parents, Glasgow said.
"He is not able to care for himself. He has an extreme learning disability. If he's labeled as a sex offender, he's essentially out on the street (after his parents die)," Glasgow said. "There has to be some sort of consideration taken for what could happen in this case."
Kane County prosecutors said they do not comment on ongoing cases.
The investigation into Madsen began in early October after the owner of a server for Minecraft games contacted police after a teen messaged her. The teen in Michigan received lewd images and videos through an app called Discord, in which gamers communicate, according to a police affidavit used to secure a search warrant for items at Madsen's parents' house on the 1100 block of Charleston Drive, St. Charles.
A St. Charles police officer created a profile of a teen girl and conversed with Madsen via the Discord app, and they set up a day for Madsen to go to the girl's apartment when her mom wasn't home, according to the affidavit.
Madsen went to an apartment where police were waiting. After his arrest, Madsen admitted to police he sent teens multiple images and knew it was wrong, according to the affidavit.
Glasgow said Madsen's parents immediately took away his online access, and Madsen now has a flip phone instead of a smartphone.
Madsen is next due in court Jan. 16.