Metro-East News

Man convicted of sex crimes with young girls receives 140-year sentence

Convicted child rapist Marlon Coleman received a longer prison sentence than most murderers get — 140 years.

St. Clair County Assistant State’s Attorney Amanda Fischer said he deserves it.

“He murdered the innocence of these three girls. He murdered their self-worth. He murdered their ability to trust others,” she told Circuit Judge Bob Haida at Coleman’s sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

Coleman, 40, of East St. Louis, was convicted in February by a jury of one count of criminal sexual abuse, but the jurors couldn’t reach a verdict on nine counts of criminal sexual assault. During a retrial in August, Coleman was convicted of the nine counts along with one count of indecent solicitation of minor.

Haida sentenced Coleman to 15 years on each of the nine predatory criminal sexual assault counts. Under Illinois law, those sentences must be served one after another for a total of 135 years. Haida also sentenced Coleman to five years on the two remaining counts. Those can be served together after the initial 135 years is completed.

Prosecutors and police alleged that Coleman raped, molested and threatened three girls over a period of two years. The three girls, now 16, 15 and 13 testified at both trials. They took the stand at Coleman’s sentencing Wednesday.

“I thank God he’s out of our lives,” said the 15-year-old girl, who wore bright blue Chuck Taylor Converse tennis shoes.

“He destroyed my childhood,” the 16-year-old girl wrote in her statement read by Fischer. “No matter how man times I try to pick up the pieces, I just can’t.”

“I feel like this was all my fault but underneath I know it was all his fault,” said the 13-year-old, who said Coleman made her do “nasty things.”

Their mother told Haida she will spend the rest of her life trying to help her daughters recover.

“The memories of this will haunt us for the rest of our lives,” she said.

“This is a case of courage and perseverance. The victims had the courage to face the defendant not once but twice in two trials and the prosecutors never gave up,” State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said.

He murdered the innocence of these three girls. He murdered their self-worth. He murdered their ability to trust others.

St. Clair County Assistant State’s Attorney Amanda Fischer

Medical testimony in the case showed the youngest victim, then 11, sustained a torn hymen and contracted chlamydia.

But Coleman maintained his innocence. And his family took the stand to defend him.

“He’s my brother. I still believe he is innocent,” said Reve Coleman, Marlon Coleman’s brother.

Denise Coleman, Marlon and Reve Coleman’s mother, said, “Children lie” and she refused to believe her son did the things the victims in the case said he did.

“It’s just all wrong,” she said. “I wish that it could be fixed.”

Marlon and Reve Coleman saw their younger brother shot to death years ago. Daniel Cuneo, a clinical psychologist who conducted a sex offender evaluation on Coleman, stated Marlon Coleman could be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder from that.

But Cuneo also stated that Marlon Coleman was at “high risk” to re-offend because he was not motivated to participate in treatment because he believed he had done nothing wrong. Cuneo also found that Coleman suffered from sociopathic tendencies and had a history of alcohol and cannabis abuse.

Coleman’s criminal record contained only of a few traffic tickets and a minor cannabis possession charge. Coleman told Haida that he did not commit the crime.

“I am a victim of lies,” he said.

He told the judge that a family dispute was the source of the allegations.

“I have done wrong to no one in my life and I never would,” he said. “They call me evil. I am not evil. I don’t do evil.”

Coleman claimed he was the victim of a “broken world.”

“It is a broken world. I became convinced of that a long time ago. I sat here and listened to every piece of evidence that you listened to,” Haida said. “I believe the jury got it right. ... You have left damaged people in your family and the victims’ family. You are part of the reason this world is broken.”

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer