2 Investigators: Chronic Offender Escapes Sex Conviction, Under Judge’s Ruling

CBS — A woman said she was sexually assaulted at a Northlake gas station, and the mid-day attack captured on surveillance video.

So why wasn’t the suspect – Cornell McWilliams — convicted of a sex crime?

The victim told police McWilliams approached her outside the gas station on Dec. 21, 2016. She says was inside her car when he pulled the door open and reached between her legs to grab her crotch.

“If I allow him to get me out of my car he’s either going to rape me, beat the crap out of me or steal my car,” the victim, Kristina, tells 2 Investigator Brad Edwards. “I was so scared, I was shaking.”

She finally got away when a Good Samaritan heard her screaming for help and intervened.

McWilliams — with 79 previous arrests and a tattoo of Scrooge McDuck on his forehead — then went inside the gas station, stole a banana and exposed himself to store employees.

McWilliams was tried in June on 10 felonies, including six counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Cook County Judge Stanley Hill found McWilliams guilty of the most serious charge — unlawful vehicular invasion — but not guilty of the sex-abuse charges, a ruling that angered Kristina and Northlake Police Chief Norman Nissen.

“We think there was certainly sufficient evidence to convict this person,” Nissen says.

He says it’s disappointing because it’s important that convicted sex offenders publicly register their address.

Judge Hill did not return messages. A spokesperson for his boss, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, also had no comment, noting, per Illinois Supreme Court Rule 63, that “a judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court.”

McWilliams, 31, is to be sentenced Monday. The vehicular invasion charge is a Class 1 Felony with a potential penalty of up to 15 years in prison; it is also probationable.

McWilliams’s attorney had no comment.

CBS 2 is not using Kristina’s last name for this report. She now has a conceal-carry permit and a firearm.

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