FAYETTE COUNTY — A 50-year-old Mattoon man who had served five years of an eight year sentence for sexual assault and sexual abuse was found not guilty today on both counts in a retrial by a Fayette County jury.
Thomas Oakley was convicted in 2010 on felony charges of criminal sexual assault of a family member between the ages of 13 and 16, and aggravated criminal abuse.
In his appeal, Oakley claimed that due to mistaken advice by his attorney, he unwittingly waived his right to a jury trial, and was instead tried in a bench trial by a judge.
Defense counsel also discussed with Oakley his opinion that jurors in such cases are too emotional, and he was concerned about the accuser’s family being politically connected in the county.
Oakley was subsequently sentenced to 8-years in prison, but the conviction was reversed and remanded back to Fayette County for retrial. After less than an hour and a half of deliberation this afternoon, the jury returned verdicts of not guilty on both counts. Oakley’s bond was returned and he was released.