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Ingleside man gets 20 years for child assault
By Mick Zawislak | Daily Herald Staff

Joseph Ray Dalton


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Published: 10/16/2008 12:05 AM

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An Ingleside man was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years in prison for the predatory sexual assault this spring of a 5-year-old girl as she played with her brother in the family's driveway.

Circuit Judge Victoria Rossetti said she considered several factors, including Joseph Ray Dalton's troubled childhood and limited criminal history, but said there are many people with problems who haven't assaulted anyone.

"Our houses are where we believe we are safe, and our families are safe," she said before briefly describing the attack on the afternoon of April 18 near Rollins Road and Oakwood Avenue. "That's aggravation. That's an assault not only on the 5-year-old girl, but on everything we hold sacred in this life."

Prosecutors had asked for the maximum 30-year sentence, saying Dalton, now 24, shattered the victim's life in a matter of moments.

"Twenty, 30 even 40 years from now, she will still be in prison for what happened to her when she was a little girl," the victim's family said in a statement read by Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Mary Stanton.

"It was random. The defendant's only explanation for this is that he was under the influence of some substance," added Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Rod Drobinski. "What the defendant did is the reason we have to lock our doors."

Dalton declined to speak or present evidence on his own behalf.

Defense attorney Randie Bruno argued the six-year minimum sentence to up to 10 years would be appropriate for several reasons, including Dalton showed remorse and pleaded guilty, keeping the victim out of court.

She said Dalton had a troubled childhood and no way of coping with the realities of life. She described him as a "highly disturbed man" who was smoking and drinking regularly by the age of 10 to self-medicate.

Bruno acknowledged Dalton had anger and other psychological issues, but needed help rather than being "cast adrift" by a long jail term. He previously had not been jailed or charged with a felony, and essentially was a first offender, she added.

"It's not a defense. It's not an excuse. It's an explanation," Bruno said. By law, Dalton must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence or 17 years. Bruno said she will appeal.

According to the impact statement, the victim and her brother had new bikes and were allowed to play for the first time in the driveway.

The victim has been angry and had temper tantrums, according to the statement. Other family members, including the brother who witnessed the attack, have had emotional problems.