McCullough found not guilty in rape trial

By Dave Gong

Tears flowed once again at the DeKalb County Courthouse Courtroom 204, 133 W. State St. in Sycamore, as Circuit Judge Robbin Stuckert found Jack Daniel McCullough not guilty of all charges.

McCullough, 72, was charged with one count of rape, a Class X felony and four counts of indecent liberties with a child, a Class 1 felony.

In her ruling, Stuckert discussed the testimony and evidence brought forward by the prosecution.

“In this case, we find there was a late report of 40-something years,” Stuckert said. “There may have been a reasonable explanation this court should have heard.”

Stuckert said the State never asked the victim, Jeanne Tessier, McCullough’s half-sister, for the reason why she failed to report the incident for over 40 years.

Additionally, “This court heard no evidence of what happened after the event,” Stuckert said. “During the 33 minutes [Tessier] was on the stand, the State never asked.”

Stuckert said as time goes on, things change and the City of Sycamore has changed. One thing that has not changed, however, is that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, she said.

“The State has failed to meet their burden [of proof], therefore the defendant is found not guilty on all charges.

Following the ruling, Regina Harris, DeKalb County public defender, who represents McCullough, said she felt gratified that the law was on her side in this case.

“I really felt yesterday it could go either way,” Harris said. “I felt that the force of the law was on our side, but Jeanne Tessier was a very powerful witness.”

Harris said McCullough is very relieved by Stuckert’s ruling.

“He’s relieved to tears,” Harris said, “He’s very emotional right now.”

McCullough is also charged with the 1957 kidnapping and murder of a 7-year-old Sycamore girl, Maria Ridulph. Harris said it is her impression that the State intends to prosecute that case to the best of their ability.

Harris said while there is no date on the murder trial, she anticipates a trial by the end of summer, or early fall.

Clay Campbell, DeKalb County State’s Attorney, who along with Julie Trevarthen and Victor Escarcida, DeKalb County assistant state’s attorneys, were prosecuting the case, has not yet been reached for comment.