At least four women told police that Richard Mollett raped them.
Police investigations twice led to rape charges, but Mollett was not convicted of a sex crime. He has convictions for felony aggravated battery and misdemeanor domestic battery.
The 44-year-old handyman says he is no sexual predator, but simply the victim of women scorned trying to get even.
“They’re wrong,” he said. “To get sympathy they say I raped them. ... They want to get revenge on me.”
Mount Vernon Police Department investigative files contain descriptions of beatings and sexual assaults that victims as young as 14 said they suffered at Mollett’s hands.
A former girlfriend escaped to a friend’s house in 2002 after she said Mollett punched her face and sexually violated her with his hand.
Cops burst into Mollett’s home in 2005 and found him naked with a sobbing, partially dressed 47-year-old woman who said Mollett raped her. Neighbors heard her screams and called 911.
Two years later, two eighth-grade girls told police that Mollett got them drunk and raped them.
Mollett said the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services temporarily took custody of his toddler son 15 years ago after neighbors said Mollett allowed adults who paid him to sexually violate the boy, allegations he staunchly denied.
In a more recent case where he was vague about details but spoke of a fifth woman, Mollett said, “I got accused of rape by this one girl, but it never happened because I was in bed with this other girl at the time.”
He denies ever sexually violating anyone.
Mollett said he is always ready for a party. A phone call. A pint of vodka or gin. And if a woman is old enough and willing to “make out,” that’s all it takes for a good time.
“It’s only if they’re willing,” he said.
Mollett’s social life has generated at least eight court orders of protection that he filed demanding male and female acquaintances to keep their distance from him. Several have been filed against him.
In September, a woman at his long-time home on 20th Street answered a knock on the front door by opening a side window.
“Sure he’ll talk to you,” she said leaning out. She provided the address where Mollett was making a plumbing repair that day.
Leaning against the trunk of a shade tree, Mollett willingly answered BND reporters’ questions. He offered nearly the same reason for why each of the women accused him.
“It’s something in this town, Mount Vernon,” he said. “ I buy them this and that. And then I just say, ‘No more. I’m done.’ I don’t give them no money. To get sympathy they say I raped them.”
Mollett lives in Jefferson County, population 39,000, where just 15 percent of felony sex crimes reported to police were prosecuted from 2005-13, according to a Belleville News-Democrat investigation.
Police and prosecutors ran into problems investigating the allegations against Mollett, illustrating why many accused sex crime suspects never face prosecution.
One woman listed as a victim in a police report refused to cooperate with prosecutors. Another later married Mollett after telling police he raped her.
In another case, one of two teenagers gave a conflicting account of their alleged assault. The mother of one of the girls refused to allow a DNA sample to be taken from her daughter.
One teenager, now 21, said no romance was involved when Mollett got her and her cousin drunk in 2007 and raped them. The girls were 14 at the time.
She said Mollett was a trusted friend of the family. “He was like an uncle,” she said. “I had heard he raped (his wife) but I didn’t think he’d do that to us. ... We wanted some fun. We said, ‘Hell yeah,’ we’d drink with him.’
The girls got drunk on vodka and gin and agreed to get into Mollett’s bed to sleep it off.
“He must have slipped something in what he gave us because we couldn’t move,” she said.
“Me and (my cousin) got into his bed to sleep. He did it to her first.”
Mollett was arrested but denied raping the girls. He spent three months in jail before his bail was reduced and he was released. In July 2009, a little more than two years after the alleged sexual assaults of the schoolgirls, all charges were dropped.
“When the cops talked to us they tried to say we provoked it. That we did it,” the woman said. “They didn’t do their job. He should be in prison.”
But from the beginning there were problems with the case.
When police first questioned the woman who was interviewed by the BND, she left out that she and her cousin had been engaged in a sex act with each other when Mollett came into the bedroom and asked if he could join in, according to a police report.
When talking to BND reporters years later, the woman said she had been reluctant to admit the sexual act with her cousin but that she was otherwise telling the truth. She said she did not give Mollett permission to have sex with her. In Illinois, a minor cannot legally give consent to an adult for sex.
Mollett remembered a detail when talking with reporters that contradicted what he told police years earlier. He said he had smoked pot with both girls, but did not provide them with alcohol as the police report said. Providing either substance to a minor is illegal.
According to the police report, an adult relative of one of the girls went with her to Good Samaritan Hospital so that a rape evidence collection kit could be administered.
But the relative did not wish to wait the several hours the test would have taken and refused to sign a consent form to allow the examination. She told the emergency room staff that Mollett did not rape her daughter because she considered the act to have been “consensual” despite the girl’s age, a police report stated.
Mollett said the girls lied about him for revenge and offered this scenario:
A few days before the incident, a woman related to one of the girls called him at home. He said the woman told him that if she could come over and drink alcohol, “I’ll give you sex. So I said, ‘Yeah.’”
When the sex was over, Mollett said he called city police to come and remove the woman because days earlier he had gotten an order of protection that required that she stay away from him.
“We went into my bedroom, made out ... and then I called the police and said, ‘Get this bitch out of my house,’” Mollett recalled.
Neither police nor prosecutors would comment about why the case was dropped. Court records state DNA evidence was collected from the clothing of one of the girls but there is no public record of what it showed. Mollett said it “excluded” him.
In 2002, Mollett’s girlfriend, Jennifer Gulley, accused him of punching her in the face and sexually violating her with his hand.
Mollett was locked up for two years awaiting an examination of whether he was mentally fit for trial. In 2004 he was found fit, but the rape charge was dropped and he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and was released.
Mollett said when he got out of jail, he went back to the home where he and Gulley had lived and found her still there. And to his amazement, he said, she told him that unless he married her that very weekend she would see that he was again charged with rape.
“Know what I did? Went and got a marriage license and called up a preacher I knew. And we got married,” he said. Gulley died accidentally in 2011 when she was separated from Mollett.
Asked why she would accuse him of rape and then want to marry him, Mollett said, “The homosexuals she was staying with across the alley more or less instigated her in making the report. They talked her into it. She’s always been gullible.”
Mollett said the state took custody of his then 3-year-old son in 2000 because neighbors spread untrue rumors that he was sexually exploiting the child for cash.
“They took my son, DCFS did. I fought it. I represented myself,” he said. “I got my son back. I won in court.”
Asked why his neighbors would say he was sexually exploiting his young son, Mollett said it was Gulley, his girlfriend at the time, who actually called police.
In the case where officers responded to a 911 call and found a woman in Mollett’s home who said he raped her, police encouraged her to file charges. They also urged her to go to a hospital to be examined.
“I explained to her that when she sobered up to a sober frame of mind to come to the police department to speak with a detective,” Patrolman Clyde Hall’s report stated.
But the woman never showed up. Mollett was released later that day.