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Richard Coffey

Coffey

CHARLESTON — A Coles County jury on Friday didn't believe a man's claims that sex with a woman, as well as beating and binding her, was consensual.

The jury quickly returned guilty verdicts against Richard L. Coffey, 34, who was accused of raping the woman after beating her and binding her with duct tape in his car in Mattoon on Jan. 16.

The jury needed about a half-hour of deliberations, a brief amount of time for criminal cases, before convicting Coffey of charges that will require at least 16 years in prison at sentencing.

During the four-day trial, the now 21-year-old woman testified that she met Coffey two days before the attack.

She said she asked him for a ride and if he knew a man she knew only as "J" she believed could help her buy methamphetamine. Coffey identified himself as "J" and they stayed in contact by text messages up until the day of the attack, she said.

During the time in his car together, the woman said, Coffey hit in her face several times then used duct tape to bind her hands together and her sweater over her head.

She said she stopped physically resisting his rape attempt when he put what she thought was small knife to her back.

Coffey didn't testify during the trial and Public Defender Anthony Ortega presented no other evidence on his behalf.

However, the jury saw a video recording of a Mattoon police interview with Coffey, when he admitted hitting and binding the woman but claimed she asked for it during consensual sex.

Coffey's story changed during the interview, and he originally denied having sex with the woman, agreeing to details as police told him of the extent of the woman's injuries and other evidence.

During his closing argument to the jury Friday, State's Attorney Jesse Danley called the attack a "crime of opportunity."

Coffey immediately claimed he was "J" when the woman said she was trying to find him and later routinely referred to her by affectionate nicknames during their text exchanges, Danley noted.

"At no point does she give any indications that she's interested in him," he said.

The woman testified that she had a knife in her purse and police also found one in Coffey's car, Danley also noted. The purse wasn't found but the woman said she could hear Coffey going through it after he bound her with the tape, he added.

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Danley also said Coffey's claim that the sex was consensual, especially with the beating that accompanied it, wasn't believable.

"She didn't say, 'Yes, beat my face to a pulp,'" he told the jury. "No part of this was consensual."

Coffey eventually released the woman and she made her way to a Mattoon residence, where police found her injured and with duct tape around her neck and wrists, Danley also said.

In his closing argument, Ortega asked the jury to consider that DNA from a rape kit didn't match Coffey's. Danley said the forensic scientist who tested it said it was possible it came from the woman's recent sexual encounters with other men, however.

Ortega also urged the jury to consider the woman's "very high-risk lifestyle" and that "drugs and deception go hand in hand." He asked why the woman would approach Coffey, a stranger, about obtaining methamphetamine when she already knew other dealers.

"It's hard not to think part of this story is missing," Ortega said. "It just doesn't add up."

In her response, Assistant State's Attorney Jenifer Schiavone said the woman's drug use didn't make her to blame for what Coffey did to her.

"Women's poor decisions do not justify a man's bad actions," she said. "There are no poor decisions that justify what the defendant did to her."

After the jury's verdict Friday, Circuit Judge James Glenn scheduled Coffey's sentencing hearing for Aug. 14.

The judge said he wanted to hear from the attorneys about whether he has to order separate sentences for each of the charges of which Coffey was convicted.

The most serious charge was aggravated criminal sexual assault, which is sexual penetration by threat or use of force and, in Coffey's case, with use of a weapon or resulting in great harm.

A conviction for that offense requires a prison sentence of six to 30 years and 10 years is automatically added to that when a weapon is used.

Coffey had been jailed since his arrest, but on Friday Glenn granted Danley's motion to have his bond revoked pending sentencing.

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Contact Dave Fopay at (217) 238-6858. Follow him on Twitter: @FopayDave

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Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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