An East Peoria man will go to prison for forcing sex on a minor girl at the threat of kicking her and her mother out of his home to live again in their car.
Two days of testimony convinced a Tazewell County jury Wednesday to convict Robert Rogers, 60, of seven charges that included aggravated criminal sexual assault while in a supervisory capacity of a minor and soliciting to promote juvenile prostitution.
Rogers faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced on Nov. 9. He’s been held in custody since his arrest in May.
He preyed on the 16-year-old girl for about seven months after she and her mother moved into his home last October, the girl testified. The mother’s boyfriend also lived there, she said.
She dabbed away tears but spoke steadily to describe the six months she and her mother were forced to live in their car with their dog and two cats. Her mother had lost her job, and they’d been evicted from their Creve Coeur trailer home.
They slept in parking lots and at campsites, she said. “It was stressful, very cramped and very hot.” The girl, who was not attending school, bathed in gas station restrooms.
Rogers took them into his small one-story Kenwood Street home, and the girl’s mother found house cleaning work. Rogers soon told the girl he wanted rent from them, she said.
Starting in November, he began sexually touching the girl as she watched TV or read books for her home-schooling courses, she said.
“I was scared. I didn’t know what to do,” as Rogers’ actions — “too many times to count” — led to intercourse, she said. Rogers paid her money at times, and also tried to get her to have sex with another man for pay, she said.
Police were called in May by a woman who said she saw online messages Rogers had sent the girl discussing sex and his threat to kick the mother and daughter out.
Rogers acknowledged his contacts with the girl in a police interview. In his trial, however, he said the girl had seduced him.
The girl said she now attends high school and lives with a foster family.