Camp Point woman enters Alford plea to aggravated criminal sexual abuse charge; sentencing set for June 9

Janelle Sparrow

Janelle Sparrow | Photo courtesy of Adams County Jail

QUINCY — A Camp Point woman facing sexual abuse charges entered an Alford plea on Friday morning in Adams County Circuit Court to an amended charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Janelle M. Sparrow, 36, appeared in Adams County Circuit Court with her attorney, Don Heck, before Judge Tad Brenner. She originally was charged with one count of criminal sexual assault, a Class 1 felony, and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, both Class 1 felonies. Had she been found guilty, the sentencing range for all three charges is between four and 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Brenner opened the plea hearing by saying he had received “a third amended information.” After asking Sparrow her age and questions about her health and her attorney, Brenner started reading the new fourth count when Heck interrupted.

“Your honor, it’s going to be an Alford plea,” he said.

By entering the Alford plea, Sparrow maintains her innocence but agrees the state had enough evidence to prove her guilty.

Brenner then read the new charge, which claims between Jan. 16, 2022, and Feb. 16, 2022, Sparrow committed the offense of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony. She committed an act of sexual penetration with a male at least 16 years of age but under 17 years of age. A Class 2 felony is punishable for between three and seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

As part of the deal, all three Class 1 felonies were dismissed.

Brenner asked Sparrow a series of questions, to which she softly replied, “Yes, sir” or “No, sir” to each. Brenner asked Heck if there was any reason he should not accept Sparrow’s plea.

“I have spoken to Miss Sparrow and her husband numerous times,” Heck replied. “I spoke to her very briefly this morning. There’s absolutely no reason why you should not take this plea today.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck said she would present evidence that on Feb. 16, 2022, a child advocacy center advocate interviewed a teenage boy who disclosed he had been living at Sparrow’s residence and had sexual intercourse with Sparrow.

The Adams County Sheriff’s Department received a child abuse hotline report from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on Feb. 14, 2022. An investigation was initiated, with assistance from DCFS and the Advocacy Network for Children. 

Sparrow was arrested Feb. 17, 2022, arraigned June 7, 2022, and pled not guilty on July 5, 2022.

Brenner will sentence Sparrow on June 9.

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