Dennis Dodson / photo from Cook County Sheriff's office
Updated: May 17, 2013 6:33AM
A homeless man on Monday was sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting an 83-year-old Orland Park woman who tried to help him find food and shelter.
Dennis Dodson, 36, pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual assault for the September 2011 attack in a vacant lot behind a Home Depot store in Orland Park, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
Dodson, who was living in the lot at the time of the attack, was sentenced by Judge John Hynes, a statement from prosecutors said.
On Sept. 22, 2011, the woman was walking home on a path behind The Home Depot when she met Dodson and gave him $5, prosecutors said. The victim then collected a few items, including crackers, and went back to the lot and gave them to Dodson, along with another $10, prosecutors said. She called local shelters, including her church, to find him shelter, but was told to call Orland Park police.
The next day she called police, then returned to the lot, where she found Dodson lying on the ground with several beer cans, according to prosecutors.
When she told him she had called police, Dodson because agitated, grabbed her by the shoulders and shoved her to the ground, prosecutors said. He began kissing her, put a hand over her mouth when she screamed, sexually assaulted her and then rode away on his bicycle.
Dodson had a long record of previous offenses and had been on the move for at least 15 years before the Orland Park incident, according to his arrest, court and prison records.
His travails spanned the nation: a disorderly conduct arrest in New York City in 2001; extensive problems with the law in California and Florida, and plenty of stops in America’s heartland.
He’d been through Illinois at least once before, in November 2004, when he acquired a state ID card, using the Tinley Park address of a social service agency. Yet he had no prior Illinois arrests, and he hadn’t before been accused of such a violent crime.
Dodson had stolen cars, gotten drunk in public, battled police officers, trespassed, records show. He possessed cocaine and stolen property, and took things from stores, police said. He had been arrested 60 or so times, according to records Sun-Times Media acquired.