BENTON — Judge Paul Lamar deemed there was probable cause Wednesday to proceed to trial in the sexual assault case against former Franklin County deputy Christopher Hampton.
Hampton was charged earlier this month with criminal sexual assault and custodial misconduct for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman in January 2016 who had been arrested and was in his custody. Court documents indicated the alleged victim was legally intoxicated at the time. After being told of the allegations, the Franklin County Sheriff asked the Illinois State Police to handle the investigation. State’s Attorney Evan Owens also recused himself.
During the preliminary hearing, Trooper Special Agent Farrin Melton of the ISP testified to the timeline his team’s investigation established.
Taking questions from Special Prosecutor Lorinda Lamken from the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, Melton told the court that he had learned that Hampton responded to a call at about 1 a.m. Jan. 16, 2016, to a residence just outside of West Frankfort. There they found the alleged victim, her 9-month-old child and friends. Melton said the call had been made to police because the alleged victim had become angry and violent.
Melton testified that officers arrested her for child endangerment as well as underage consumption of alcohol — he said she was between the ages of 18 and 21 years old and that a preliminary breathalyzer test indicated she had a blood alcohol level of .186 percent.
Melton said Hampton was asked by a fellow deputy if he would prefer to transport the alleged victim or another suspect — he chose the alleged victim. Melton said there were no others in the car.
In his testimony for the prosecution, Melton said the alleged victim filed a report about 4 p.m. Jan. 16 after arriving at the jail, where she said during her ride in Hampton’s squad car, the two began talking about sex. She said he pulled the car over on a rural Franklin County road.
“We will have to make this quick,” Melton testified that Hampton told the alleged victim before he allegedly assaulted her.
According to an information sheet filed earlier this month with the Franklin County Circuit Clerk, Hampton allegedly "committed the offense of criminal sexual assault, in that said defendant, knowing that (the victim) was unable to give knowing consent due to intoxication, committed an act of sexual penetration on (the victim), in that he placed his penis in the vagina of (the victim)."
Melton said during an interview with Hampton, he admitted to having sex with the woman while he was on duty, but not on the day in question — he said it was two days prior. Melton said Hampton said that it was consensual — testimony explained that Hampton said he saw the woman walking about 3 a.m. Jan. 14 and after speaking with her, took her to a West Frankfort park where they allegedly had sex.
Melton said investigators performed another interview with the alleged victim where she explained that she had been with a friend in Mason from Jan. 10 to 15. She denied having sex with Hampton prior to the alleged incident on Jan. 16.
Melton said DNA testing done on the clothes the alleged victim wore the night of the alleged incident found semen on her underwear. He said the DNA found there matched that of a sample provided by Hampton.
During cross examination by Hampton’s defense attorney Aaron Hopkins, Melton said security footage from the jail was collected as evidence as well as surveillance footage from Hampton's squad car. He also said no one interviewed the two other deputies who were with Hampton the night of the alleged sexual assault.
After Lamar found probable cause, Hopkins informed the court his client would waive formal arraignment and asked that a plea of not guilty be entered on both counts.
Hampton will appear for a pretrial conference at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 20.