Man not guilty in 1962 rape case; still faces charges in 1957 slaying

April 12, 2012 2:24:29 PM PDT
A Seattle man was acquitted of charges that he raped an Illinois teenager 50 years ago. A judge announced the not guilty verdict in Jack McCullough's trial Thursday morning.

McCullough is charged separately in the 1957 kidnap-slaying of another Sycamore girl.

Anger and disappointment were among the emotions felt Thursday by Bob Tessier and his family after a judge found 72-year-old McCullough not guilty of an alleged rape that happened nearly 50 years ago. The accuser is a relative of McCullough.

"This is a travesty of justice as far as we feel," said Tessier.

In her decision, DeKalb County Judge Robbin Stuckert said the state didn't prove their case during a two-day bench trial for the 1962 rape, saying, "The state simply did not ask. The state has failed to meet its burden."

His attorneys say McCullough showed no emotion when the verdict was read but cried afterward.

"I'm very gratified by the outcome, as is my client," said DeKalb County Public Defender Regina Harris. "My opinion is that the strength of my case was the lack of details in any portion of the state's case."

In court, the victim testified that she was 14 and living in Sycamore, Illinois, when McCullough picked her up in a convertible and drove her to an unfamiliar house, where he assaulted her before allowing two other men to also rape her.

And, while the defense argued that there was nothing to back up the victim's story, prosecutors say the verdict was a miscarriage of justice.

"It was a terrible slight to these victims that came into this court and told their story," said DeKalb County State's Attorney Clay Campbell.

Another woman who said McCullough sexually assaulted her when she was a teen left court Thursday afternoon without comment.

McCullough was indicted on rape charges last year after he was arrested in Seattle and indicted on kidnapping and murder charges in the 1957 death of another Sycamore girl, 7-year-old Maria Ridulph. McCullough, who went by the name of John Tessier, has pleaded not guilty.

"When he is tried for the kidnap, rape and murder of my sister Maria...justice will be served," said Charles Ridulph, victim's brother.

McCullough continues to profess his innocence as he and Sycamore-area residents wait for the prosecution to present its case in upcoming the murder trial.