Former Mayor Rood found not guilty

Dan Campana - Staff Writer

Sycamore- DeKalb County Circuit Judge Douglas Engel acquitted former Genoa Mayor David Rood of unlawful restraint, criminal sexual abuse and battery charges following a bench trial Tuesday.

Engel said special prosecutor Gregg Ingemunson was "far short of proving the case" against Rood. Ingemunson relied on testimony from the alleged victim and a detective from the county sheriff's office, as well as a taped conversation between the victim and Rood.

"It's obvious Mr. Rood didn't admit to anything," Engel said of the tape in his ruling

Rood would not comment on the verdict, his accuser or his attorney, but thanked his supporters

"I would like to thank all those who stood behind me and supported me through this ordeal," he said Wednesday morning. "I will have no statement about the trial; the acquittal on all counts speaks for itself."

The trial consisted primarily of "he said, she said" testimony from Rood and his accuser, each of whom offered vastly different versions of what took place at her Kingston home on April 28, 2000.

According to the woman's testimony, Rood visited her home uninvited while she spent time with her children. At one point, after asking Rood to leave, the former mayor grabbed her by the wrist, pushed her up against his body and began "humping" on her, she said.

Under cross examination, the woman admitted she was able to get away from Rood on her first and only attempt.

During questioning from his attorney, Gary Johnson, Rood explained he went to the woman's home to bring her items she wanted that had belonged to a deceased friend named Richard, who rented an apartment from Rood.

Rood said the woman at one point lifted her shirt up to show him a sunburn she had. As he prepared to leave, she offered a hug.

"She thanked me and extended her hands," Rood said on the stand, using his arms to demonstrate what the woman did.

When asked by Johnson if he made and "grinding" motions on the woman as she described, Rood responded it was untrue.

"I don't recall anything that could be construed as sexual," he testified.

Ingemunson said in closing argument, "I don't think anyone can confuse 'humping' with a hug."

The testimony of both Rood and the woman varied on most details, including the number of times the two had met at the Genoa Café, where the woman worked.

Rood testified he met the woman the day before going to her home, while the woman said Rood had been in the restaurant on more than a dozen occasions prior to the meeting in Kingston.

Both testified that Rood showed the woman at least one picture taken from Richard's apartment that depicted the tenant's stepdaughter nude in a chair. Rood said Richard had taken the picture.

Ingemunson attempted to capitalize on the fact Rood said he showed such a picture to a person in a public restaurant whom he had just met.

"It was very private where we were sitting," Rood responded, adding he wanted to show the woman that Richard was not who she thought he was.

After the verdict, Ingemunson said for Rood to do such a thing was "beyond the realm of normalcy."

Johnson applauded the verdict, saying the testimony and evidence proved Rood was telling the truth.