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Decatur man denies raping child

Herald & Review - 5/25/2023

May 24—DECATUR — A Decatur man appeared in court Wednesday denying charges he repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted a girl younger than 15 years old.

John H. Bennett, 43, is accused of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

The defendant told Macon County Circuit Court Judge Lindsey Shelton he was willing to waive a preliminary hearing where the judge would weigh the evidence and decide if there was probable cause to try him. He then entered not guilty pleas on all counts.

A sworn affidavit filed by Decatur police said the accusations came to light when the child told someone at her middle school that she had been "touched inappropriately" and raped. The allegations were jointly investigated by an investigator from the Department of Children and Family Services and the police.

A "forensic interview" was then conducted with the child who is quoted as saying she had been repeatedly assaulted.

Detective James Knierim, who signed the affidavit, said a check of Bennett's background showed a 2014 conviction out of Coles County for solicitation of a sexual act.

Shelton assigned the latest charges to the trial list of Presiding Judge Thomas Griffith and scheduled a pretrial date for July 5.

Macon County Jail records show Bennett had been arrested April 29 while incarcerated after having earlier been arrested April 22 on a charge of domestic battery.

His bail is now set at $203,000, requiring him to post a bond of $20,300 to be freed.


Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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