A man accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old child pleaded guilty as a Madison County jury prepared to hear his case.
DeMarco Neal, 37, of East St. Louis, was about to go to trial on two counts of predatory sexual assault of a child younger than 13 and one count of aggravated sexual abuse of a child. Jury selection began Monday afternoon, but shortly thereafter, Neal opted to plead guilty, averting the trial.
Neal pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated sexual abuse, a class 2 felony. The other two counts were dismissed. He will serve an extended-term sentence of 14 years, of which he must serve at least 50 percent, and he will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
“This was a challenging case from the start, and there were serious concerns about the well-being of the victim if she were forced to testify at trial,” Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons said. “With this sentence, we are glad to see a sexual predator put behind bars for harming a child — and, fortunately, without causing any further victimization to this very young girl who has already suffered so much.”
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The case was investigated by the Collinsville Police Department and Madison County Child Advocacy Center.