BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – A former Bloomington police sergeant convicted of raping four women between 2002 and 2005 will spend the rest of his life behind bars after being sentenced Tuesday to 440 years in prison.
Jeff Pelo slouched forward in his chair but otherwise didn't react as Judge Robert Freitag announced the sentence. Two victims and their families clapped in court.
Jurors deliberated for parts of three days in mid June before convicting the 17-year police veteran of 35 counts, including 25 counts of aggravated sexual assault.
Jurors convicted Pelo without physical evidence linking him to the crimes. But prosecutors used dozens of witnesses and evidence found in Pelo's home to portray him as a man obsessed with violent pornography who paradoxically wanted his victims to like him. They also said his police computer login was used to research rape victims before the attacks.
Defense attorney Michael Rosenblat countered that the defense lacked any physical evidence incriminating Pelo and filed a motion last month asking for a new trial. Freitag denied the motion earlier Tuesday.
Pelo has been jailed since his June 2006 arrest outside a woman's home. Another Bloomington officer spotted Pelo outside the home late on June 11, 2006, after the woman reported a prowler.
Pelo claimed he was shopping for a home for his mother-in-law. His wife backed up that claim, saying her husband often kept strange hours after working night shifts for years.
Pelo initially faced burglary and stalking charges, but over the next month three of the four rape victims identified him from photos as their attacker. Two of them also identified his voice as that of the man who raped them.
One of Pelo's victims testified that he was almost gentle at times, while another said took particular delight in learning, after he'd raped her, that she was pregnant.