Chicago (CBS) — Joseph Kopacz’s latest conviction came down Nov. 8 following a trial at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, but the 54-year-old wasn’t there to hear the guilty verdict.
That’s because, according to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Kopacz, who was out on bond during his trial, left the courthouse while the jury was deliberating, and never came back.
CBS 2 legal analyst Irv Miller isn’t surprised by the timing.
“Frankly, the best time for him, if he’s going to decide to bolt and run out of the courthouse and not show up for the verdict, is while the jury’s out because if he’s found guilty, he may not have to do his time if he never gets caught,” Miller said.
Kopacz was on trial for an October 2016 home invasion and criminal sexual assault that took place in the 3800 block of North Kenmore.
According to police, a 23-year-old man woke up to Kopacz assaulting him. Kopacz tried to get away, but the victim put him in a headlock and held him until police arrived.
It wasn’t Kopacz’s first sexual crime. In fact, the Illinois Sex Offender Registry includes nine photos of Kopacz dating back to 2005.
Despite his absence, the jury found Kopacz guilty and the judge issued a no-bond warrant for him.
Kopacz has been on the run now for more than three weeks.
The last address listed for him on the state sex offender registry is on Clarendon Avenue in the Buena Park neighborhood. There was no answer at the door to Kopacz’s home, but his name was clearly on the mailbox.
Others living in the building didn’t want to go on camera but said they were shocked to hear Kopacz is a convicted sex offender.
The fugitive apprehension unit from Cook County Sheriff’s Office is actively trying to locate and apprehend Kopacz. Anyone who spots him should call 911.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office said it is extremely rare something like this happens.