URBANA A veteran paramedic is being charged for allegedly sexually assaulting a patient who was being taken to a hospital in an ambulance he was manning.

Jeffrey Sanford Jr.

JEFFREY SANFORD JR.

States Attorney Julia Rietz said Tuesday she filed two counts of criminal sexual assault against Jeffrey Sanford Jr., 47, of Gifford, in connection with an incident that allegedly happened in an OSF PRO Ambulance rig on July 21.

Champaign County sheriffs Lt. Curt Apperson said Sanford Jr., was arrested Monday afternoon in connection with the incident, which his detectives have been investigating since last summer.

About 3:40 a.m. (July 22), deputies were sent to OSF (Heart of Mary Medical Center, Urbana) for a report of a woman saying she was pressured into performing oral sex on an EMT on the way to the hospital, Apperson said.

Both the 48-year-old woman from Rantoul and Sanford were interviewed that day and he denied any of her allegations.

Apperson said a sex assault kit was performed on the woman that day and DNA swabs were taken from Sanford.

Tests recently returned from the Illinois State Crime lab revealed a match between what was taken as evidence from her and Sanfords DNA, Apperson said.

In arraignment court, Assistant States Attorney Christopher McCallum said the woman reported to a nurse at the hospital that she was sitting on a bench in the ambulance beside Sanford when he allegedly forced her to perform the sex act on him.

Sanford told sheriffs investigators that the woman initiated the contact and that when he realized what was happening, he stopped it.

Apperson said Sanford was interviewed again Monday afternoon at the Rantoul Police Department. He was on duty for PRO at the time and told deputies he was familiar with the woman from previous medical calls.

Apperson said Sanford told police he had been a paramedic for 23 years. OSF HealthCare spokeswoman Libby Allison declined to say how long he had worked for OSF PRO but said he no longer works there and that OSF has cooperated with police in the investigation.

Rietz said one of the Class 1 felony counts alleges the use of force while the other alleges that the victim was unable to consent. If convicted, Sanford faces a mandatory prison term of between four and 15 years, Rietz said.

Judge Adam Dill set his bond at $75,000 and, after denying Sanford's request for a public defender, told him to return to court with his own attorney on Feb. 21.

Sanford, a husband and father of two, told the judge he lost his job.

mschenk@news-gazette.com