Quincy man, 93, receives four years of probation after making guilty plea on sexual assault charge

Lionel Surratt

Attorney Drew Schnack, center, introduces Lionel Surratt, seated, to a member of the Adams County Probation Department after Monday afternoon's sentencing hearing in Adams County Circuit Court. | David Adam

QUINCY — A 93-year-old Quincy man charged with sexually abusing and sexually assaulting his 10-year-old great-granddaughter will get to “die peacefully in my home” after receiving a 48-month sentence of probation on Monday.

Lionel Surratt appeared with attorney Drew Schnack in Adams County Circuit Court before Judge Robert Adrian. 

Surratt had been charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim under the age of 13, a Class X felony, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a victim under the age of 13, a Class 2 felony. Had the case gone to trial, Surratt could have been sentenced to between six and 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for the Class X felony and between three and seven years for the Class 2 felony had a jury found him guilty.

Surratt agreed on Oct. 20 to plead guilty to the charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. A bill of indictment filed by an Adams County grand jury on July 6 found reason to believe Surratt touched the upper leg of his great-granddaughter for sexual gratification. 

As part of the plea agreement, the charge of predatory criminal sexual assault was dismissed.

A victim impact statement submitted by the parents of the great-grandchild was read by Trisha Hubbard, victim/witness coordinator for the State’s Attorney’s Office.

“Because of your actions, we have lost half of our family,” the statement read. “Because of your actions, (the victim) has had to go through extensive counseling. She’s had emotional breakdowns and outbursts. As parents, we are afraid to let her stay the night at any of her friends’ houses. We have severe trust issues. We are very hurt by your actions. We trusted you. We looked up to you.

“To accuse us of ulterior motive was shallow and untrue. There is nothing to be gained from this. We have lost many hours of work and pay. (The victim) has missed school to attend counseling. (The victim) thinks she is ‘broken down there’ and is self-conscious. … I wish you never would have moved to Quincy or come into our lives. … You chose to bury the incident and tell (the victim), in detail, how you would harm yourself if she told us what happened. 

“Shame on you and anyone who excuses what you did.”

Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Keck said Surratt is the oldest person the Adams County State’s Attorney’s Office has prosecuted in recent memory. 

“That does not excuse what he did,” she said.

Keck said the victim’s parents were adamant they would not let her testify in a trial for Surratt.

“Probation will hopefully give him an appropriate level of monitoring so this does not happen again,” Keck said. “It doesn’t matter if he’s 20 or if he’s 93. He needs to have the monitoring of the court, to ensure it does not happen again, and to have a probation officer who can monitor his actions and make sure the public is protected.”

Schnack told Adrian that Surratt dropped out of school in the 10th grade in 1947 to take care of his siblings after his father died because the family was poor and didn’t have enough food to eat. He served during the Korean War and Vietnam War before retiring from the Air Force in 1971. He was married for 50 years to one woman, and he adopted three children and took in another 15 or more “who needed help and direction.” Schnack said Surratt doesn’t drink or do drugs, and he’s never had a traffic ticket.

“There is no question my client gave to (the victim’s parents), who now accuse him, more than $60,000 over a two-year period,” Schnack said. “It was basically all the money in the world so they could buy a house and make the payments on the house. When (Surratt’s) daughter confronted them and asked about the money, they came forward with this offense. 

“Certainly smells to me. In any other world, Mr. Surratt would be a victim in this matter and somebody would be prosecuted for elder abuse … but we are where we are.”

Surratt wrote in a statement to Adrian on Sept. 23, “I am a good man. I am an honest man. I would do no harm to anyone. I do not have many years left. All I would ask is the Lord let me die peacefully in my home with my family around me and be with my wife (who died of cancer in 2001).”

Schnack read from the sex offender registry of the pre-sentence investigation report, saying on a scale of 1 to 100 with 100 being the worst, Surratt scored a negative three. Schnack also said Surratt’s risk to re-offend was 0.4 percent. 

Given a chance to make a statement of allocution, Surratt said, “I’ve already said everything I’ve said.”

Adrian sounded hesitant to accept the terms of the plea.

“This court doesn’t have any say as to how cases are negotiated,” he said. “The people negotiated this case to probation. The defendant accepted that plea to probation. So the court has no choice but to accept that negotiation and sentence you to probation. Whether the court likes it or doesn’t like it, or if the court thinks it’s fair or doesn’t think it’s fair, the court can’t do anything about it.

“Hopefully, you’ll be able to outlive your probation.”

Surratt was given credit for one day served in the Adams County Jail and 126 days of home confinement.

Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?

Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.

Current Weather

MON
82°
68°
TUE
90°
58°
WED
76°
55°
THU
81°
62°
FRI
84°
61°

Trending Stories