Man gets 30 years for 'sick' sexual assault of woman in Belleville

News-DemocratNovember 15, 2013 

AP

An East St. Louis man was sentenced to 30 years in prison for the sexual assault of a woman in Belleville.

Artarius Whales, 21, was sentenced Thursday by Circuit Judge John Baricevic. Whales must serve at least 85 percent of his prison sentence.

Whales pleaded guilty to the charge of sexual assault in September, one of three defendants charged in the incident that occurred in an alley in the 300 block of North Sixth Street in Belleville in November 2010. Whales and Delcheva Harris of Washington Park were charged with sexually assaulting the victim while a third defendant, Rachael Howard of Belleville, held the victim down and kicked her in the head and body.

"This is a strong sentence for a non-homicide case, but the right sentence for this sick crime," said St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly.

A fourth man, Joshua L. Harris, of East St. Louis, was convicted of aggravated battery in connection with the sexual assault of the woman.

The four attacked a man and a woman, both in the their 30s at the time of the assault, as they were walking home from a barbecue. The man was walking the woman home for her safety, police said at the time of the attack. The group attacked the pair, hitting the woman in the face and knocking her to the ground and beating the man after hitting him in the head with an object.

The group then forced the woman to a secluded area a short distance away and sexually assaulted her.

The charge of aggravated criminal sexual assault is a Class X felony.

Howard was previously found guilty of aggravated criminal sexual assault by a jury and has been sentenced to 17 years in prison. Harris pleaded guilty and has a sentencing scheduled for Dec. 30.

Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Phillips of the State's Attorney's Violent Crime Unit prosecuted all three aggravated criminal sexual assault cases.

Contact reporter Jennifer A. Schaaf at jschaaf@bnd.com or 618-239-2667.