Former Glenbard West football player convicted of assaulting girl
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org October 6, 2011 2:57PM
Demarco Whitley leaves court in this March file photo. He was sentenced Tuesday for raping a 15-year-old girl.
Updated: November 16, 2011 10:17AM
Demarco Whitley testified he and a teammate on the Glenbard West football team both had sex with a willing 15-year-old girl in a car last year during an arranged tryst.
But a Cook County judge flatly dismissed those claims on Thursday as he convicted Whitley of raping a girl he admitted he had never met before their Jan. 29, 2010, encounter.
“To put it nicely, his testimony was not only unbelievable but poorly contrived,” Judge Thomas Fecarotta said as he found the 19-year-old guilty of four counts of felony criminal sexual assault.
The convictions come in a bizarre case that saw Whitley injured and teammate Pierre Washington-Steel killed in a car crash that happened as they drove home barely an hour after the sexual encounter.
Whitley — whom Fecarotta acquitted of one count of sexual assault — sat calmly with his arms folded in front of him until he was taken into custody.
He faces a minimum 16-year prison term when he is sentenced next month.
The Rolling Meadows girl and her mother both sobbed softly as Fecarotta announced his verdicts; so did several of Whitley’s relatives seated near him in the courtroom.
The girl testified during the trial that she was raped after getting into a car with Washington-Steel, whom she knew casually, and Whitley. The teen said the two drove her to a church parking lot not far from her home, locked the car doors, then both assaulted her. “There’s no doubt in my mind that sex occurred and there’s no doubt it occurred the way the victim said it did,” Fecarotta said in announcing his verdicts.
Whitley admitted lying when first questioned by police, telling them he could not remember anything about the sexual encounter because of his crash injuries. “He lies because he knows the truth is he raped that girl,” Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy said. Thursday during her closing arguments.
She noted the teen told her mother about the assault the next morning, then offered similar, consistent accounts to police, a nurse and prosecutors.
Whitley offered a completely different account, insisting Washington-Steel called the girl earlier that day to arrange a sexual encounter with her, then drove him to Rolling Meadows that evening to meet her.
After the girl had sex with him and Washington-Steel, they dropped her off at a friend’s house, bought gas and pizza, then Whitley and Washington-Steel were driving back to their DuPage County homes when the car struck a utility pole. The crash occurred barely an hour after they had dropped off the girl, authorities said.
Washington-Steel, a popular star on Glenbard West’s powerhouse football team, died a few days later of his injuries. Whitley, who was badly injured in the crash, was charged earlier this year. after he recovered and after DNA tests were completed.
Fecarotta in his ruling said Whitley’s testimony was inconsistent and often unbelievable, including his claims he never talked to the girl in the car — not even to exchange names — but still had consensual sex with her.
“I really believe at one point he was panicked,” Fecarotta said of Whitley’s rambling testimony.
Whitley acknowledged Washington-Steel had never arranged any similar encounters and he also admitted lying when first questioned by police, telling them he couldn’t remember anything about the sexual encounter because of his crash injuries.
Whitley’s lawyer contended Washington-Steel’s death made it more difficult to clear Whitley, saying the other teen would have backed Whitley’s claims the sex was consensual.
“Mr. Steel could shed some light on past experiences and prior situations (with the girl),” said defense attorney Donna Rotunno, who during her closing arguments described the girl as “a liar” who falsely accused Whitley because she was embarrassed to admit she had sex with two people at once.
Whitley’s testimony, Rotunno said, may have been confused at times because of his young age.
“It shows a kid who is scared,” she said.
McCarthy and co-counsel Kristin Piper contended there was “overwhelming evidence” that Whitley had assaulted the teen. They argued the girl had no reason to wrongly accuse Whitley and Washington-Steel, whom she had considered a friend.
“There is absolutely no reason for (the girl) to say she was forced to perform sex acts if it wasn’t true,” McCarthy said.
The teen and her mother declined to comment, but prosecutors said the guilty verdicts show she did nothing wrong.
“We hope this finding of guilty helps her realize this is not her fault and the only person to blame is the defendant,” said McCarthy.