East St. Louis man gets prison time for sexually assaulting 12-year-old girl

An East St. Louis man will spend up to nine years in prison for sexual assault of a child.

Touncho Wallace, 20, of East St. Louis, was charged last year with three counts of predatory sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl and one count of aggravated sexual abuse.

According to court documents, Wallace had sex with the girl on Dec. 30, 2016, and was arrested three days later. He pleaded guilty to one count of predatory sexual assault of a minor, and both the prosecutor and defense said he admitted what he did.

“He never accused the victim of lying. He takes 100 percent responsibility for his actions,” said defense attorney Benedict Song during a sentencing hearing Wednesday. “He understands he has done something horrific.”

Song also said that Wallace himself was a survivor of sexual abuse, which he said was not an excuse for his actions, but might help the court gain insight.

The state agreed to a lesser sentence since he cooperated fully with police, confessed and pleaded guilty, sparing the child and her family a trial and testimony. He also had no criminal record, was employed and was studying at Southwestern Illinois College at the time.

Psychological evaluation showed that Wallace stood a high probability of successfully completing rehabilitation, according to St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert Haida, which the judge said influenced his belief that Wallace was unlikely to re-offend.

“You know and I know that what happened has a lasting negative impact on this young lady, and you took something from her that she can never get back,” Haida said. “You recognize that what you did was wrong, but too late to avoid punishment.”

The Class X felony offered sentences up to 60 years in prison, but the prosecutor asked for 10 years and the defense for six years. Haida chose to sentence Wallace to nine years in prison, of which he must serve 85 percent with credit for the year he has spent in jail awaiting sentencing. He will be on probation for three years up to natural life after release, at the discretion of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

He will also have to submit a DNA sample and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, by Haida’s order.

“There’s no way for me to know what will happen when you are released from prison, only you can decide that,” Haida told Wallace. “You’re in control of that. Don’t ever forget that.”

In his statement, Wallace apologized to the family, saying that he was immature at the time. “I’m sorry. I’m not this way. I’ve never done anything like this,” he said. “I’ve cried every night ... I would never do this no more.”

Elizabeth Donald: 618-239-2507, @BNDedonald