Four witnesses called in first day of McCullough trial


This July 27, 2011, file photo provided by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Department in Sycamore, Ill, shows Jack Daniel McCullough, 72, of Seattle.

By Dave Gong

Wiping a tear from her eye, Jeanne Tessier, 64, of Cadiz, Ky., recounted the events of a sunny spring afternoon in 1962, 50 years ago.

“It was a warm day and I was sitting on the front steps of my family home,” Tessier said.

This was the first scene recounted inside the DeKalb County Courthouse, 133 W. State St. in Sycamore, Courtroom 204 Tuesday during the first day of the Jack Daniel McCullough bench trial, presided over by Circuit Judge Robbin Stuckert. A bench trial is a trial presided over by a judge and does not contain a jury.

McCullough, 72, formerly known as John Tessier, stands accused of rape as well as four counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. Rape is a Class X felony, while taking indecent liberties with a child is a Class 1 felony.

According to the prosecution, McCullough allegedly raped his younger half-sister, then 14-year-old Tessier, in the spring of 1962. No specific dates were given at the hearing. McCullough pleaded not guilty at a hearing on Sept. 8, 2011.

Julie Trevarthen, DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney, Victor Escarcida, DeKalb County Assistant State’s Attorney and Clay Campbell, DeKalb County State’s Attorney, are prosecuting the case. Robert Carlson, along with Regina Harris, DeKalb County Public Defender, are defending McCullough. Trevarthen and Carlson provided the opening statements to the court.

In her statement, Trevarthen said Tessier’s half-brother, McCullough, drove to her home at 221 Center Cross St. in Sycamore in a convertible. Tessier entered the car and was driven to a house at 751 Carlson St. in Sycamore. Tervarthen alleged McCullough then took Tessier into the house, to a bedroom, and raped her. McCullough then allegedly offered Tessier to several of his friends.

Trevarthen said the testimony from witnesses presented to the court will show “the defendant has a propensity for such crimes.”

In his opening statement, Carlson refuted the claims laid by the prosecution.

“The state will find no corroboration for what Jeanne will say,” Carlson said. “My client never owned or had access to a convertible car.”

Additionally, Carlson said there is no corroboration that Tessier was ever present at the house at 751 Carlson St., and there is nothing to corroborate Tessier’s story.

“My client is not guilty,” Carlson said.

The prosecution called 4 witnesses to testify Monday: Katheran Caulfield, 66, of Virginia, Minn., Tessier, 64, Michelle Weinman, 45, of Payal, Wash., and James Gallaway, of Rockford.

The first witness, Caulfield, took the stand and identified pictures of her sister, Tessier and herself taken in the spring of 1962. Caulfield said in total, she had six siblings, the oldest being McCullough.

Caulfield said McCullough returned to Sycamore in November 1961 after being discharged from the military. She said McCullough lived with her family at 221 Center Cross St. briefly before moving out to a home within walking distance of the family home. Caulfield said McCullough returned home mainly “to eat meals and do his laundry.” Caulfield identified McCullough as the man she knew as John Tessier.

The second witness, Tessier, said she was alone in front of her house when her brother drove up. She had never ridden in a convertible before and asked McCullough for a ride.

“John originally said no,” Tessier said.

Tessier said McCullough eventually agreed and she got into the car. She said she sat in the front passenger seat and once the car was in motion, McCullough became silent and began to drive with intensity. She could tell she was in danger at that point, she said.

McCullough allegedly took Tessier to a part of Sycamore she was not very familiar with and entered a house. Tessier said McCullough took her to a dark, empty room with a single cot set up on the floor, took off her lower clothes and raped her. During the incident, she could hear other people in the house, she said.

“When the door opened, John turned and spoke with them,” Tessier said.

She said McCullough then offered the men a turn.

“Two of the persons took turns with me,” Tessier said.

After the two men had finished, a third man entered the room, she said. This man did not have sex with her and told her to put her clothes on.

Tessier said she cannot remember how she got out of the house, but does remember that it was still light outside and she did not know where she was. Tessier said she began walking and found her way home from a local cemetery.

“I wanted to get into the house and out of these clothes before anyone saw me,” She said.

Tessier said no one was home when she arrived at her house, and she proceeded to the basement where she removed her clothes and got into the shower.

“I stood in the shower until the hot water was gone, trying to wash away what had happened to me,” she said.

Following Tessier, the prosecution called its third witness, Weinman. Weinman said she was introduced to McCullough, who was still known as John Tessier, in Milton, Wash. in 1982 after running away from home with a friend.

Weinman said she eventually came to stay with McCullough because she knew he was a police officer and “seemed like a nice man.” Weinman said she and her friend stayed with McCullough and his girlfriend in a house before eventually relocating to an apartment. Initially, Weinman said she was treated well while staying with McCullough, though after a while, his demeanor changed.

“He started getting a little creepy,” she said.

Weinman said McCullough would have her lie on the floor and would give her back massages, telling her she could be a masseuse. During these massages, McCullough would pull down her pants and massage her butt, she said.

“When I was sleeping on a couch, he had woken me up,” Weinman said. “He had taken my panties off and was performing oral sex on me.”

Weinman said she was extremely scared during the incident.

“I laid on the couch and was holding a blanket. I just froze,” she said.

Weinman said the incident was reported the next day at school and she never returned to the apartment. Weinman was 15 years old at the time of the alleged sexual assault, she said.

The final witness of the day was Gallaway. During his testimony, Gallaway provided prosecutors with a description of the house where McCullough allegedly raped Tessier. Gallaway also said he met McCullough several times while staying at 751 Carlson St. and socialized with him on occasion.

The court recessed after Gallaway’s testimony and will reconvene at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.