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Sex offender sentence will stand, judge says

Sex offender sentence will stand, judge says

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BLOOMINGTON – The 48-year sentence for a Bloomington man convicted of sexually assaulting a minor girl will not be reduced, a judge ruled Monday.

Stephen Orendorff claimed that his hearing loss kept him from fully understanding what was going on during court proceedings last year, including his December 2012 plea hearing and a February 2013 sentencing hearing.

The court hearing was delayed for about an hour Monday while court staff set up devices that allowed the defendant to hear what was being said by Judge Scott Drazewski, Assistant State’s Attorney Adam Ghrist and defense lawyer Ron Lewis. Before the hearing, Orendorff told his lawyer he was not wearing his hearing aides because the batteries were not working for the devices.

The 64-year-old convicted sex offender said his claims were based on details he read in a transcript of the earlier hearings, including what he considered false testimony from two girls.

“It’s not so much that I can’t hear, it’s that my understanding drops way down,” Orendorff explained, later admitting that his hearing loss caused no issues during his previous employment as a McLean County Unit 5 bus driver.

Lewis argued that Orendorff’s decision to plead guilty to two charges may have changed if he had known the maximum sentence was 75 and not 150 years as he was initially told by prosecutors.

Ghrist questioned the logic of that argument, noting that a lesser possible sentence could be considered positive.

“I haven’t been in trouble before,” said Orendorff, adding that he knows many other inmates “in the same situation and every one of them has a lot less time than I do.”

In his ruling, Drazewski pointed out that Orendorff showed no signs that he misunderstood the terms of his plea agreement or sentence.

The effort to reduce the sentence or take back his guilty plea is based on one factor, said the judge: “He just doesn’t like the sentence that was imposed.”

Orendorff was sentenced to 20 years on each of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and eight years of sexual assault for offenses that took place over five years. At the initial sentencing hearing  Drazewski likened Orendorff’s crimes to human trafficking where girls are kept as sex slaves.

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