Prosecutor drops sex charge against Rantoul man

URBANA — A Champaign County prosecutor has dismissed a charge alleging a man sexually assaulted a developmentally delayed adult late last year.

Assistant State's Attorney Larry Solava dismissed an aggravated criminal sexual assault charge against Danny Smith, 57, who listed an address in the 1600 block of Harper Drive, Rantoul, Sept. 25, the day his jury trial was to have started.

The dismissal came days after Smith's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Corum, filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that Solava had violated Smith's right to a speedy trial by not prosecuting him within the requisite 120 days.

Smith was arrested Dec. 31 and charged Jan. 3 with the Class X felony for an alleged assault that took place on the woman in her Rantoul home Dec. 26.

The woman reported to her mother that day that she had discomfort in her genital area and that Smith, who had been staying in the home, came to her room after others in the house had gone to sleep and wouldn't leave her alone.

The woman's mother took her to Carle Foundation Hospital that same day. An exam there revealed trauma consistent with the allege sexual misconduct.

Rantoul police interviewed Smith Dec. 31 and arrested him that day.

Solava said DNA samples were taken from the woman and Smith and sent to the state crime lab for analysis Jan. 6.

Court records show that Solava asked for and received four continuances for trial between late February and late June because the lab had not finished analyzing those samples.

Then, in late June, Solava asked that more DNA be obtained from Smith for further analysis, which Judge Tom Difanis allowed. Solava also asked for another continuance based on the absence of findings regarding DNA from the lab. Difanis allowed that motion, and the lawyers agreed to an Aug. 7 trial.

But on Aug. 7, Solava asked for another continuance since the DNA analysis was still not complete. Difanis continued the case until the Aug. 22 pretrial, but Solava asked for another continuance for the same reason on that date, which Difanis granted.

Corum said in her motion to dismiss — which never even got ruled on by Difanis because Solava dismissed the case — that all seven of the state's motions to continue were filed under the same sections of the criminal code.

She maintained that Solava had not invoked the section of the law seeking a continuance that specifically asks for an extra 120 days for DNA analysis to be done.

Smith had been in jail about nine months at the time of his release last week.

Solava said Wednesday that he received the lab results days after he dismissed the case and called them "not definitive."

mschenk@news-gazette.com
 

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