Ian McDonald was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to having a sexual relationship with one of his students. Problem is, he could only be sentenced to prison on the charge that he pleaded guilty to.
Ian McDonald appeared back in Peoria County Circuit Court on Friday morning to modify his plea to a lesser charge.
He had to do so in order for his plea agreement, reached Thursday, to pass legal muster.
McDonald, 32, of Glasford had agreed to register as a sex offender, give up teaching and serve four years on probation in return for pleading guilty to criminal sexual assault Thursday afternoon. Problem is, a person can’t be sentenced to probation on that charge, only four to 15 years in prison.
The teacher admitted having a months-long sexual relationship with a former student who was 17 at the time.
McDonald’s attorney, Thomas Penn Jr., and Assistant State’s Attorney Larry Evans had intended to have McDonald plead guilty to the lesser charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, which is probationable. The amended charge, however, was not filed, and McDonald pleaded to the assault charge rather than the abuse count.
All other factors of his plea agreement remain the same, including the provision that McDonald must register for the rest of his life as a sex offender. The change was essentially a legal nuance.
It’s not uncommon for a person to plead to what is referred to in the justice system as a "lesser included" charge. The practice, often reached through plea negotiations, offers an incentive not to go to trial.
The plea agreement was reached after prosecutors consulted with the victim’s family, who said they didn’t want McDonald to go to prison.
McDonald was given credit for spending 162 days in the Peoria County Jail, and was released Thursday evening.
Andy Kravetz can be reached at (309) 686-3283 or email@example.com.