URBANA, Ill. – University of Illinois Police Officer Jerald Sandage was arrested Friday for seven counts of official misconduct which occurred between February 2017 and January 2018.
The arrest warrant was issued by a Champaign County judge Friday, and Sandage turned himself in to the Piatt County Jail. Official misconduct is a Class 3 felony.
The preliminary charges resulted from an investigation into Sandage’s conduct on- and off-duty as a police officer. The charges involve Sandage’s misuse of law enforcement databases and security cameras to seek personal information about women on and off the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus. The allegations remain under investigation.
“Officer Sandage violated his oath of office, and he violated the trust that members of the public put in police officers to keep them safe,” said Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Craig Stone. “This is totally unacceptable, and it is something that will never be tolerated at the University of Illinois Police Department. Our priority now is providing resources to the victims.”
Sandage was placed on administrative leave in September 2018 when he was named as the offender in a report of sexual assault that occurred off campus while he was off duty. The University of Illinois Police Department is providing the below timeline to clarify how the investigation resulted in the arrest.
Timeline of events:
- September 2018: A woman reported that she was the victim of a sexual assault that Sandage is alleged to have committed while off duty. The investigation was referred to the Illinois State Police (ISP). Sandage was immediately relieved of his police authority and placed on administrative leave. In addition, his access to law enforcement information and resources was revoked. He was later allowed to return to desk duty with the investigation pending, however his access to law enforcement resources was not restored.
- January 2019: ISP provided information to the Champaign County State’s Attorney’s Office. Based on Sandage’s position as a recently active police officer, the State’s Attorney’s Office requested that a special prosecutor be appointed. A judge appointed the appellate prosecutor’s office to handle the matter.
- September 2019: A second woman reported that Sandage sexually assaulted her in 2012.
- October 2019: Both victims declined to participate further in the investigation, and no charges have been filed at this time in those matters. ISP turned over to UIPD the evidence collected during the investigation, and UIPD immediately commenced an internal investigation to address personnel matters related to Sandage’s conduct.
- December 2019: During the course of the internal investigation, it was determined that Sandage likely had engaged in criminal acts involving misuse of law enforcement resources. UIPD provided its reports to the Champaign County State’s Attorney for review, and the State’s Attorney determined there was sufficient evidence to file criminal charges of official misconduct. The evidence also included photos of women that are suspected to have been taken without their consent.
“We acted as quickly as possible at each stage of the process,” Stone said. “We have and will continue to work diligently to hold the offender accountable and provide resources to the victims. We intend to be open and transparent about the process and will provide updates as it is appropriate to do so.”
Due to the time period over which the behavior occurred and the voluminous amount of data collected, the extent of who may have been targeted is unknown.
Police continue to seek information about Sandage’s conduct. Anyone who may have had troubling interactions with Sandage should contact Lt. Joseph McCullough at the University of Illinois Police Department by calling 217-333-1216 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Illinois Police Department will work with Illinois Human Resources on processes related to Sandage’s employment status at the university.
“As police officers, we work every day to prevent crime and hold offenders accountable,” Stone said. “To learn that these acts were committed by someone who took an oath to uphold the law is particularly appalling. We will always act quickly to remove anyone from our department who targets the very community members they are sworn to protect.”