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BLOOMINGTON — A Chenoa man who fathered a child during the sexual assault of a teenage girl left behind serious consequences for the victim and those close to her, a judge said Tuesday before sentencing the man to 16 years in prison.

William Keith Ellis, 45, pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sexual assault.

Assistant State's Attorney Jacob Harlow acknowledged that the sentencing phase of the case took an unusual and difficult turn in early February when the victim, now an adult, offered a statement of support for Ellis, who was acquainted with her.

In a victim impact statement read at a Feb. 16 hearing, the woman said she has forgiven Ellis and linked his repeated sexual assaults on her more than five years ago to the sexual and physical abuse he suffered as a child.

"I truly believe he never meant to hurt anyone ... I think sending people to prison just messes them up," the woman told Judge Scott Drazewski.

On Tuesday, Harlow asked for a 24-year sentence for Ellis. The conclusion of the case does not end the trauma for the victim, he said.

"There will be no winners. There will only be losers," said Harlow. The prosecutor noted that at one point Ellis discouraged the victim from disclosing the abuse, telling her, "nobody will believe you."

In his brief statement to the judge, Ellis apologized to the victim.

"I'm very sorry for what I did. I've caused you a great deal of trauma," Ellis said to the woman, who attended the hearing with family members.

Defense lawyer Jennifer Patton asked for an eight-year prison term.

Ellis was initially found mentally unfit to stand trial and received treatment at a state facility where he was restored to fitness. It is unlikely Ellis will receive adequate mental health care in the Department Corrections, said Ellis' lawyer.

"He's going to be housed; he's going to be fed and that will probably be about it," said Patton.

In handing down the 16-year sentence, Drazewski told Ellis that his actions have had "a profound impact on so many people and a profound impact on  the duration of their lives."

Ellis must serve 85 percent of the sentence and will be required to register as a sex offender when he is released. He was given credit for 396 days in custody.

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny


Reporter for The Pantagraph.