BLOOMINGTON —  A McLean man is entitled to four separate bench trials on charges accusing him of sexually abusing four victims, a judge ruled Thursday.

Clint Valentine, 53, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of four females who were minors at the time of the alleged abuse. The incidents date back 27 years and occurred over different time frames for the victims, according to the charges.

A plea hearing set for Jan. 4 was canceled after defense lawyer Jack Vieley argued that a December ruling by the Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield in a Champaign County sex assault case impacts Valentine's case.

The appellate court reversed the conviction in the Champaign case, in part because the defendant was denied separate trials on accusations involving multiple alleged victims. The court ruled the multiple accusations were not part of "the same comprehensive transaction."

Judge Casey Costigan ruled Thursday that the facts are similar enough in the two cases to make Valentine eligible for separate trials.

Assistant State's Attorney Erika Reynolds opposed Vieley's motion for more than one trial. The prosecutor also opposed the defense request to withdraw Valentine waiving a jury trial in lieu of a bench trial where Costigan will issue a verdict.

Costigan ruled that Valentine will have four consecutive bench trials, with the first one tentatively scheduled to begin Jan. 22. 

Citing Valentine's failing health, Vieley asked that the trials be held a month apart.

"He's in bad shape today ... He appears rather lethargic. I really don't think he's going to make it," the defense lawyer said of the proposed trial schedule.

Costigan repeated his decision from an earlier hearing in which he agreed to allow Valentine frequent breaks during court proceedings as recommended by a doctor.

The state has the option of choosing which case will be tried first. Reynolds said she will make that decision before a Jan. 16 hearing.

Photos: 2018-19 McLean County mug shots

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny

McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.