Former Elburn man pleads guilty to beating toddler

By on April 6, 2012

KANE COUNTY—A former Elburn man has pleaded guilty to severely beating a toddler in a St. Charles hotel room while high on heroin in October 2010.

James C. Cooper, formerly of the 700 block of North First Street, Elburn, and most recently of the 1500 block of East Main Street, St. Charles, recently agreed with the Kane County State’s Attorney to a sentence of 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections in exchange for a guilty plea to one count of aggravated battery to a child, a Class X felony.

Circuit Judge Timothy Q. Sheldon accepted the plea.

The morning of Oct. 27, 2010, in a hotel room in the 1500 block of East Main Street, St. Charles, Cooper slammed the victim face-first into the bed. The victim immediately was unresponsive, not breathing and bleeding from her mouth.

After 911 was called, Cooper fled the scene before emergency responders arrived. He was taken into custody three days later in Batavia.

Cooper acknowledged this week in court today that he was under the influence of heroin at the time of the incident.

According to Illinois law, Cooper must serve at least 85 percent of the prison term. He was given credit for at least 519 days served in the Kane County jail, where he had been held since his arrest.

In January 2011, the victim’s mother, co-defendant Cathleen A. Koch, 30, last known address of the 1500 block of East Main Street, St. Charles, was indicted on one count of aggravated battery to a child, a Class X felony, six counts of obstructing justice, each a Class 4 felony, and six counts of endangering the life or health of a child, each a Class A misdemeanor.

The charges against Koch are based on an allegation that she is legally responsible for the abusive acts of Cooper, her paramour.

Illinois Appellate courts have held that a person aids another person in the commission of an offense where she has an affirmative duty to act to protect her child, and chooses not to act.

Koch remains free on $10,000 bond. Her trial has been set to begin at 9 a.m. July 16, in Courtroom 319 in front of Judge Sheldon. If convicted, Koch would face a sentence of between six and 30 years in prison.

“Our office remains committed to seeking justice for the most defenseless and vulnerable in our society,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said. “Certainly, each of us feels a tug at the heart when we learn of a defenseless child being beaten up by someone she should be able to trust will protect her.

“We hope that this case serves as a warning of what can happen to a person who becomes involved with illicit narcotics and violently acts out toward those around him. This defendant acknowledged today in court that he had used heroin many times in this victim’s presence. He is headed to prison, but a child suffered much greater consequences as a result of his selfish and criminal conduct.

“Thanks to the St. Charles Police Department for its thorough investigation of this case, and to Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Cullen and Debra Bree, who prosecuted this case.”

The charges against Koch are not proof of guilt. Koch is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial during which it is the state’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.