By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Joseph Shuck was sentenced to 25 years in prison Thursday on aggravated kidnapping, criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse charges arising from the abductions and rapes of two women.
Judge Alesia McMillen gave Shuck the maximum sentence allowed under a plea agreement.
"If it were within my power to hand down a longer sentence than the maximum in this case, I would do that," McMillen said before issuing the sentence.
Shuck, 29, of Hannibal, Mo., worked out a plea agreement in the middle of his August trial. He admitted to kidnapping and sexually assaulting two Quincy women in separate incidents.
He stood trial for the May 3 kidnapping of a woman who was walking to work in the rain on Broadway in Quincy. He sexually assaulted the woman in the parking lot of her place of employment, then took her to his Missouri trailer home in a remote part of Marion County, between Palmyra and Hannibal, and subjected her to a day of sexual torture before returning the woman to Quincy.
A second woman came forward during the trial and said Shuck sexually assaulted her. The woman testified that she was kidnapped in the early morning of Oct. 21. She said Shuck forced her to do a sexual act as he took the woman to his trailer, where he continued to sexually assault her.
"You can use the words ‘predator' and ‘serial rapist' when you talk about the depravity of Shuck's actions," First Assistant State's Attorney Gary Farha said. "I've been involved in the court system in Adams County for 30 years, and these incidents are in the top five cases I've ever been involved in regard to sexual assaults."
Farha asked McMillen for the maximum 25 years on the aggravated kidnapping charge, the most serious of the three.
"These were acts of terror," he said. "He had the arrogance to just drop them off as if nothing had happened. I can't wrap my head around that type of thinking."
Before ending his argument, Farha read a statement from one of the victims.
"On May 3, 2013, you made my greatest fear a reality," the woman wrote. "But you didn't hurt me, physically or emotionally. You unleashed the lawyer that I am meant to be. I don't hate you. How do you hate someone who is mentally ill? I feel sorry for you. I can share my story and give others the strength and courage they need."
Farha said Shuck deserved a long term in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
"Society can not tolerate people like Mr. Shuck," he said. "He deserves to be warehoused. I hope he is warehoused in the Department of Corrections for a long, long time."
Public Defender Brett Jansen, who served as Shuck's attorney, asked McMillen for leniency for his client. Jansen said Shuck would seek out rehabilitation for his mental and substance abuse problems while in jail.
"It could have been much worse," he said. "He did release the women back in Quincy."
After sitting quietly through more than three days of his trial and for the first half-hour of Thursday's hearing, Shuck finally spoke before McMillen's sentence.
"I will have a great deal of time to think while I'm in prison," he said.
Shuck looked quite different from the confident posture he struck during the trial, when he wore suits to court. He appeared Thursday with a full mustache and beard, and wore a jail-issued jumpsuit. He stood during his brief speech.
After talking about his family, he paused for a few seconds and played with the chains that bound his hands. He slowly turned to friends of the victims attending the hearing.
Shuck looked straight at them and said, "I'm sorry," before sitting back down. The friends of the victims began to cry.
Jansen said that not only has Shuck lost his freedom, but he also signed away parental rights to his son.
"The one decent thing I know about Joseph Shuck is that he realizes giving up his parental rights is in his child's best interests," McMillen said. "No child who has a parent in prison should have to answer to what their parents did."
Shuck must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence, meaning he will spend a minimum of a little more than 21 years in prison, when he would be 50 years old. He could remain in custody after release from prison if he is deemed to be a sexually violent person. The lllinois Department of Human Services would hold him until he is no longer deemed a threat to society.
Shuck was given credit for 160 days served in the Adams County Jail. Before his plea, he had been held on a $500,000 bond. That bond was revoked after he pleaded guilty Aug. 15.