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updated: 3/12/2018 4:36 PM

Judge to rule on fitness of Elmhurst woman accused of sexual assault

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  • Renee Kearley

    Renee Kearley


Three different doctors agree that Renee Kearley suffers from some form of bipolar disorder.

But they disagree about whether it's severe enough to prevent her from being found mentally fit to stand trial.

DuPage County Judge John Kinsella will rule on March 20 whether the 49-year-old Elmhurst woman is capable of understanding the charges of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse that are lodged against her and is able to participate in her defense.

Previously, two doctors from the Department of Human Services' Elgin Mental Health Center testified that after observing Kearley for a total of 180 days since her August 2016 arrest, they deemed her fit to stand trial.

Dr. John Murray, a clinical psychologist who works in the DuPage County jail, has evaluated Kearley three times during the same period and three times has found her unfit.

Murray testified Monday that Kearley refuses to talk about the charges and often downplays the role of the judge and the court system. saying "Only God will judge me because I am innocent."

Murray said he believes Kearley recognizes that her attorney, Jim Ryan, is representing her, but doubts whether she'll be of any assistance in crafting her defense.

On Feb. 8, Ryan actually filed a motion to withdraw from the case, stating Kearley refused to discuss facts of the case, refused to review discovery evidence turned over by prosecutors and refused to leave her cell to even meet with him.

Kinsella declined Ryan's motion and ordered him to stay on the case, at least until her fitness to stand trial is decided.

Assistant State's Attorney Lee Roupas said Kearley is adept at deception and may be playing the system to avoid prosecution.

"She does not want to face these allegations," he said.

Kearley's husband, Michael Kearley, 53, pleaded guilty in June to charges of attempting to communicate with or detain a witness in connection with a separate sexual assault case and was sentenced to 120 days of work release jail time and two years of probation.

Prosecutors maintain a witness caught Renee Kearley in a sexual act with a minor in June 2016. Michael Kearley then tried several times to persuade the witness not to cooperate with law enforcement officers investigating case.

Once the witness cooperated with authorities, Michael Kearley reached out to the witness again and, during a court-authorized recorded conversation, offered to "help provide money for college" if the witness recanted the information he shared with investigators.

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