‘I had to grow up too fast’: Quincy man gets 24 years in prison for sexual assault of stepdaughter

McSparren sentencing

From left, bailiffs Chad Downs, David Schlosser and Steve Traubitz escort Jeremy McSparren from a courtroom in the Adams County Courthouse on Thursday morning. | David Adam

QUINCY — Devyn Budde tried to explain Thursday morning how the smell of Doritos now reminds her of the sexual abuse her stepdaughter endured at the hands of Jeremy McSparren. 

McSparren, who appeared in Adams County Circuit Court, was sentenced to 24 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections by Judge Kevin Tippey. A December bench trial was canceled when McSparren entered a guilty plea to two counts of criminal sexual assault. He received 12 years on each count, with the sentences to be served consecutively.

As part of the plea negotiation, the three counts of criminal sexual abuse — all Class 1 felonies — were dismissed. 

During her victim impact statement, Budde explained how she was keeping an eye on her stepdaughter because she had been involved in a minor car accident when leaving school.

“Moms like to worry. It’s just what we do,” Budde said. “I asked her if she had ever had a concussion before … and I went down a list of symptoms, asking if she was experiencing any of them. She got very quiet and said that maybe she once did. I asked how she didn’t know if she had a concussion or not, because typically you would see a doctor for that.

“In a perfectly conversational tone, she told me that she experienced several of these symptoms. It was a night she went through the drive-thru at Taco Bell in Jeremy’s truck. She made a comment that he didn’t like, so he hit her in the head several times so hard that she was concussed. She was sick for days and missed almost a week of school.”

Budde said what her stepdaughter remembered most was the smell of Doritos on McSparren’s hands from his food.

“Now she can’t stand the smell of Doritos at all,” Budde said. “A couple of weeks after she told me this, I had eaten some (Doritos) and didn’t think anything of it until I went to tell all of our kids good night. I stood in her doorway, then started realizing I couldn’t hug her good night because I smelled like something that would trigger those memories.

“Now I can’t eat them at all, and we don’t even keep them in our house.”

Budde said her stepdaughter remained strong.

“This man stole the life of a young girl in its entirety,” she said. “He murdered her childhood. He violated her adolescence, and he will haunt her forever.”

Budde’s victim impact statement was one of four. Craig Budde, Devyn’s husband and the father of the victim, said a person who should have helped guide her and protect her became the person who assaulted her.

“My daughter was forced to endure a constant presence — her tormentor, her attacker, her personal monster,” Craig Budde said. “No child should have ever experienced the things that she was forced into.”

Misti Kelley, the victim’s mother who since has divorced McSparren, said her daughter has had to open herself up to ridicule and embarrassment, and that she has mental and physical issues, suffering from anxiety and depression.

“But she was clear she did this because Jeremy had to be stopped,” Kelley said. “She was fearful of what he also would do to others. She was clear that he should not be able to victimize anyone else.”

The victim also wrote a victim impact statement, but only one sentence was used in Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck’s argument for the two maximum 15-year sentences for McSparren.

“I had to grow up too fast,” Keck read from the statement. “I am just a kid.”

Keck emotionally told Tippey that the victim has an “amazingly supportive family.” She believes the young girl will not be a victim and instead “become a survivor.”

“The only reason this was ultimately found out is because he couldn’t even keep himself from doing something in a hotel room when her mother was in the bathroom attached to that hotel room,” Keck said. “He was not going to stop until (the victim) spoke up. This was not a situation where he chose to stop. He stopped because he got caught and got arrested.

“He told the police officer who did the investigation, ‘I fell in love with my stepdaughter.’ That’s what got him, quite frankly. I think he did this because he obviously has serious issues that are not going to stop.”

Mark Taylor, McSparren’s attorney, apologized to the victim’s family, Keck and Tippey.

“Nothing that’s going to come out of my mouth is going to alleviate that pain,” he said. “I am not trying to diminish the level of pain in this case. It was huge at all levels. I’m not making any excuses.”

Taylor argued that McSparren “called the police and gave a full confession,” and he made efforts during the court process not to make the victim suffer any more.

“For 39 years and eight months, he led a good life,” Taylor said. “He destroyed that in four months.”

After the sentencing, Kelley called Taylor’s comment “bull.”

“He started grooming her about age 12,” she said. “We’ve had nine months to figure this out, but he did this for two years before he was arrested. So for (Taylor) saying ‘Four months, four months’ made me very angry.”

McSparren was apologetic when he made his brief statement of allocution, but he did not look at the victim or her family.

“I’m sorry for what happened and for my family too,” he said. “I put them through hell themselves. Whatever is given to me, I understand. I would ask for leniency, but at the same time, I understand what you give me is what you give me. I’m sorry to everybody in wasting your time.”

Craig and Devyn Budde said they hoped for a maximum sentence, but they knew it wasn’t likely because McSparren didn’t have a criminal record.

“But we got damn close,” Devyn said. “(The victim) was holding her breath for so long. Now she can process. She can know where she stands, where he is and that he is not going to be a looming threat. She knows it’s done, and now she can confidently move forward. She doesn’t have to worry about it.”

“Satisfied? No. Acceptable? Yes,” Craig said of the sentence. “Satisfaction would be life in prison. I don’t think anybody who has a child who was sexually abused or assaulted would tell you any different. The nonsense of reform, to be honest … you can reform many things, but I think sexually assaulting a child is one you cannot reform.”

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