A Moline man who fled to Saipan as Rock Island County prosecutors were ready to file child sexual assault charges was back in Rock Island County Circuit Court on Tuesday.
During what was to be a preliminary hearing, Sean P. McDonnell, 39, waived the hearing and Circuit Judge Frank Fuhr set the case for trial on Feb. 26.
A preliminary hearing is a hearing for a judge to determine if there is enough evidence to move forward to trial.
McDonnell is charged with four counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a victim below the age of 13. Each of the charges is a Class X felony under Illinois law that carries a prison sentence of six to 30 years.
McDonnell also is charged with one count of criminal sexual assault of a family member below the age of 18. That charge is a Class 1 felony that carries a prison sentence of four to 15 years.
Rock Island County State’s Attorney John McGehee said the charges stem from incidents that occurred in 2016.
McGehee said that McDonnell fled the area in September as charges were about to be filed.
McDonnell was arrested in Saipan on Oct. 6 after the U.S. Marshals Service tracked him there. The U.S. Marshals then worked with the Department of Public Safety in Saipan to arrest McDonnell and hold him for extradition.
“When he fled here, he went to Denver, then Arizona, then Hawaii and then to Saipan,” McGehee said.
Saipan is a commonwealth of the United States, McGehee said, and it part of the Northern Mariana Islands.
“It’s the farthest point you can go without a passport,” McGehee said. “Since he didn’t have a passport he couldn’t go any farther.”
“They found him in a hotel in Saipan,” he added.
Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos said that McDonnell fought extradition and so prosecutors had to get a governor’s warrant to get him back.
But getting him back was more difficult that Bustos thought. Sheriff’s deputies would not be able to carry their weapons to pick up a dangerous prisoner. Other avenues for bringing McDonnell back to Illinois also did not pan out.
“Saipan wanted to get rid of him,” Bustos said. “Eventually we made a deal with Saipan. They would bring him back and we would pay for it.”
Authorities from Saipan flew with McDonnell to O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. There, Chicago police took custody of McDonnell who was then handed over the Rock Island County Sheriff’s deputies in a secure part of the terminal and he was in the Rock Island County Jail on Dec. 28.
“We’re going to end up paying $14,500 to Saipan for bringing him back,” Bustos said. “My yearly budget for extraditions is $8,000, so I’ve already blown that up.”
Bustos said that McDonnell had $9,000 in cash on him when he was arrested in Saipan. During a first appearance hearing Dec. 29, Associate Circuit Judge Clayton Lee put a freeze on the money so prosecutors can have the opportunity to seize the money and other assets to pay for McDonnell’s extradition.
McDonnell was being held Tuesday night in the Rock Island County Jail on a $2 million bond.