Man to Receive Hearing under Sexually Dangerous Persons Act
Byline: Tony Gordon
The second Lake County person ever found to qualify for an indefinite prison sentence under the state's Sexually Dangerous Persons Act is back in the county for more proceedings.
Jackie Hughes, 48, was convicted of child molesting in 1995 and charged with molesting three Gurnee girls in 1998 and 1999.
Rather than take him to trial on the Gurnee charges, prosecutors opted in August of 2000 to have a hearing seeking to declare Hughes a sexually dangerous person.
A combination of criminal and civil court rules apply in such hearings, where jurors hear testimony from psychiatrists about the mental state of a defendant and details of crimes charged against him.
If the jury decides a person is sexually dangerous, as one did in Hughes' case on Aug. 17, 2000, the defendant is held in prison indefinitely to undergo sex offender treatment.
Yearly reports of the defendant's condition are filed with the court and only a judge can decide if a sexually dangerous person is suitable for release.
Assistant State's Attorney Dan Shanes said recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and Illinois appellate courts recently won Hughes a new hearing.
Shanes said the courts have clarified the law to include a provision stating the jury must find it is more likely than not that a person will molest children again before finding that person sexually dangerous.
Hughes is currently undergoing examinations by psychiatrists and sex offender specialists and a report to the court on the progress of those examinations is due later this month.
Although the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act has been on the books for close to 55 years, the only other person in Lake County prosecuted under it was George Johnson of Antioch.
A jury declared Johnson a sexually dangerous person in July 1999, and he remains behind bars today. …