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BLOOMINGTON — The emotional harm suffered by a young child who was sexually assaulted by her baby sitter may last for years, a therapist testified Monday at the sentencing hearing for the girl's assailant.

Courtney Rockwell, 27, of Gibson City, who pleaded guilty in August in McLean County to predatory criminal sexual assault of a minor child in late 2016, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. 

Therapist Jennifer Bauer with the Youth Services Bureau said the girl told her "I have scary dreams" and showed signs of fear and anxiety during counseling sessions.

The post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms exhibited by the child could last for years, said Bauer.

"It's a long road, and it's difficult," Bauer told Judge Robert Freitag.

A victim impact statement written by the child's grandmother and read by Assistant State's Attorney Jacob Harlow outlined the daily struggles of caring for a child who "can no longer sleep peacefully at night," struggles to make friends at school, and has spells of anxiety and anger.

After the hearing, Harlow said the counselor's testimony "was eye opening for how PTSD from sex abuse can manifest itself in such a young child."

Harlow asked for 15 years for the defendant, who was eligible for up to 60 years in prison.

"Even during her waking hours she can't get this defendant out of her head," Harlow told the judge.

Public defender Jeff Brown acknowledged the extremely serious nature of the offense but asked the judge also to consider ongoing mental health and substance abuse issues experienced by Rockwell.

"When Courtney is on cocaine, he's probably not the person you want in society," said Brown, adding that his client plans to work on becoming a better person while he is incarcerated.

The violation of a position of trust while caring for the most vulnerable and the need to deter others from such conduct were cited by Freitag as the most aggravating factors in his sentencing decision.

Rockwell must serve 85 percent of the sentence. He was given credit for 151 days served in jail.

Follow Edith Brady-Lunny on Twitter: @pg_blunny


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.