CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — A Champaign County judge sentenced former University of Illinois football player Steven Feagin on Wednesday to 90 years in prison for raping a student in 1995, saying he wanted to make sure the ex-running back would never be free again.
Feagin was convicted in June on three separate counts of rape stemming from one attack on a now 39-year-old in her apartment near campus. Each conviction carried a sentence of up to 30 years. Feagin, 42, will be eligible for parole in 43 years.
Feagin was arrested in Florida in 2008, a result of former Urbana Police sergeant helping Florida police find a link between Feagin and DNA that was gathered in a separate Florida rape case.
The victim, who teaches at a suburban Chicago high school, said in an Urbana courtroom Wednesday that she’s lived much of her life in fear since being raped by a masked man.
“The kind of fear only victims know, and has manifested itself in so many ways,” she said, according to a printed copy of the statement. “Daily things that I wouldn’t have thought much about before have and still cause me anxiety and uncertainty and worry. Every unlocked window and every unlocked door. A car driving slowly past my house at night. Walking back to my car after a shopping trip.”
Feagin said little, only that he was sorry those involved had to go through the ordeal of the case and trial.
Feagin is charged in two other unsolved Champaign County rapes, from 1993 and 1995, that have not yet been set for trial. But prosecutors presented testimony from investigators and lab technicians Wednesday about the DNA links between those cases and this one, Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said.
Champaign County Judge Thomas Difanis said in court that he imposed the maximum sentence against Feagin with the other rape victims in mind, so it’s unlikely Feagin will walk free again, no matter what happens in those cases, according to Rietz.
Rietz’s staff will talk with the victims from those two cases about how to proceed, given the lengthy sentence.
All three Champaign County cases had similarities.
“Sneaking into these women’s apartments at night when they were asleep, having them all tell him that they liked what he was doing to them, the fact they he was masked,” Rietz said.
Public Defender Randy Rosenbaum’s office represented Feagin, but Rosenbaum did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Feagin’s brother, Willie Feagin, spoke in court Wednesday on behalf of his brother, according to Rietz. Willie Feagin told the judge that he and his brother were from a family of 17 children of migrant farm workers in Florida. Steven Feagin worked hard to overcome the limits of that upbringing, his brother said.
Feagin was a student at Illinois from 1989 through 1994 and a prominent football player. He rushed for 1,558 yards, 20th on the school’s all-time rushing list.
In June 2008, Urbana police learned about the DNA match in Florida. The retired Urbana police sergeant, John Lockard, went through old university directories and picked out Feagin as a potential suspect from among 73 students from Florida listed in the 1994-95 school directory.
Florida detectives got a search warrant and obtained DNA samples from Feagin, and he was arrested.
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