83-year-old details sex assault by homeless man in Orland Park
By Lauren FitzPatrick Sun-Times Media email@example.com October 14, 2011 4:14PM
An 83-year-old woman testified Friday about how a homeless man she had been trying to help sexually assaulted her in this wooded area behind the Home Depot in Orland Park. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times
Updated: January 23, 2012 4:10AM
She thought she was going to die, an 83-year-old woman told a Cook County judge Friday.
A pleasant enough homeless man she found behind the Home Depot and tried to help with money and crackers, and her name and address, responded to her latest news — she was going to call police to check on him — with violence.
“No,” the redheaded man replied, grabbing her shoulders and asking, “Do you want sex?” before forcing her to the ground with him.
“I started screaming and he put his hand over my mouth,” the woman testified at Dennis D. Dodson Jr.’s preliminary hearing at the Bridgeview courthouse, telling her story publicly for the first time. “He had me pinned down.
Dodson is charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault in the Sept. 23 attack on the woman some 50 years his senior.
The woman, well-dressed with her hair done, kept her composure as she recounted her attack, starting with why she was with Dodson in the first place.
Dodson was very polite to her the first time she found him in the shortcut path behind the Orland Park Home Depot on Sept. 22, she said, “He says, ‘Hi, ma’am’ and I says, “Hi.”
She gave him $5 because he let her through the path between the two fences behind the store, 7300 W. 159th St., without hurting her, she told the judge.
She returned a little later with $10 and a box of crackers. She offered to call places to find him help and shelter. She wrote her name and address on one half of the cracker box top and asked him to write his name on the other half, she testified.
But everyone she called refused to help, so she took a neighbor’s advice to call Orland Park police to make a well-being check.
Only she asked police to wait 10 minutes on Sept. 23 so she could check with the man before they showed up, saying, “Don’t go now, he’ll think I tricked him.”
The woman awoke a sleeping Dodson when she returned to the wooded alley behind the store.
“I shook him,” she said, asking “Is it all right if I called police? They’re going to help you.”
That’s when his demeanor changed. He smelled drunk. He pulled down both their pants. He assaulted her, she told the judge.
Dodson did not speak during the hearing, keeping his hands clenched behind his back, even when his accused identified him in open court.
He’s being held in the psychiatric unit of Cermak Hospital in the Cook County Jail, where he’s taking medication, said his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Camille Bachli.
Bachli asked the judge to order a psychiatric evaluation for Dodson to see if he’s fit to stand trial, but she was not allowed to ask witnesses about Dodson’s medication or hospitalization.
Bachli asked the woman if Dodson ever asked for help or for money.
“No,” came the response.
“Did he threaten you? Did you see a weapon? Did he ask you to call police?” she said.
“No,” the woman replied.
“Why would you ask if it’s OK to call police if you’d already done it?” Bachli said.
“I didn’t want him to lose faith in humanity,” she replied.