Illinois Supreme Court denies appeal of Pittsfield man convicted in 2021 of sexual assault charges

Clayton Watts

Clayton Watts | Photo courtesy of Pike County Sheriff's Department

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Supreme Court will not consider an appeal of the 2021 criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse convictions of Clayton G. Watts of Pittsfield, according to formal notification received by Pike County State’s Attorney Zachary Boren.

In an order dated Dec. 15, 2022, the Illinois Court of Appeals for the Fourth District upheld Watts’s convictions by a Pike County jury for a 2021 sexual assault committed in Pike County. The convictions were then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court delivered its mandate to the Appellate Court effective May 3.

Boren prosecuted the case with Assistant State’s Attorney Leecia Carnes.

“This prosecution required significant resources from the Pike County Sheriff’s Department, in particular from Chief Deputy Zack Orr,” Boren said in a press release. “I appreciate all the work that went into all aspects of this case from the Sheriff’s Department, the Pittsfield Police Department, the Illinois State Police Crime Laboratory, Blessing Hospital and the Jacksonville Police Department. Without the coordinated efforts of many people, my office could not have succeeded in bringing justice to this sexual assault victim.”  

The charges from April 2020 allege Watts had forced sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl in November 2019, according to charging documents. A Pike County jury found Watts guilty on July 22, 2021, of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Judge Alan D. Tucker sentenced Watts to 10 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections on September 24, 2021.

By statute, Watts must serve 85 percent of his sentence. His period of mandatory supervised release is 3 years to natural life. The case also included testimony from three other sexual assault victims admitted under the Illinois propensity statute. 

“All the victims who testified in this case faced their abuser with courage,” Boren said. “They supported one another, and they made these convictions possible.” 

The Pike County Sheriff’s Department was the primary investigating agency for the case. 

Boren said additional appeal options, including post-conviction petitions, remain available.

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