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Illinois cop faces sexual assault charges

A police sergeant accused of raping four women since 2002 was charged in a grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday with 35 counts, including multiple attacks on three of the victims.
Jeff Pelo
Police Sgt. Jeff Pelo, 41, arrives at the McLean County Law and Justice Center in Bloomington, Ill., for a court appearance in this June 23 file photo. Steve Smedley / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

A police sergeant accused of raping four women since 2002 was charged in a grand jury indictment unsealed Thursday with 35 counts, including multiple attacks on three of the victims.

Sgt. Jeff Pelo, 41, had already pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting the four women. His attorney, Steve Skelton, said he would also plead not guilty to the additional charges in the indictment.

Skelton has called the prosecution’s case flimsy. Pelo, jailed on more than $2 million bond, is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Pelo was first arrested in June and charged with attempting to break into a woman’s home in the middle of the night. At the time, he was wearing a black T-shirt and shorts and told an officer he was out looking for a home for his mother-in-law, officials said.

Police have said they found a mask, pry bar and other items in Pelo’s home that appeared to have been used in at least one of the assaults. Prosecutors said three of the accusers identified him from photo lineups and two identified him by voice.

The charges against him include home invasion and aggravated unlawful restraint involving two of the women. The charges allege he was armed with a gun or knife in those attacks. He faces intimidation charges in one attack because he allegedly threatened to harm the woman’s family if she contacted police.

Pelo, a 17-year veteran, is on paid administrative leave and still collecting his $81,000 annual salary. City officials say they opted to continue paying Pelo to spare the alleged victims from testifying in a disciplinary hearing as well as criminal proceedings.