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Ex-Chicago Police Sergeant Guilty in Transgender Woman’s Sexual Assault Case

Ex-Chicago Police Sergeant Guilty Transgender Woman Assault
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James B. Sajdak accepted a plea deal and faces a maximum one-year federal prison sentence for the 2019 incident after facing up to life in prison.


Former Chicago police sergeant James B. Sajdak pleaded guilty on Monday to a misdemeanor civil rights violation related to the 2019 sexual assault of a transgender woman, Tyshee Featherstone.

This latest development is a significant shift from the initial charges that could have led to a life sentence for Sajdak, as reported by theChicago Sun-Timesand theChicago Tribune.

The 65-year-old Sajdak, who served 29 years with the Chicago Police Department, faced the possibility of life in federal prison under a felony count. However, the plea agreement changed this to a misdemeanor count of deprivation of rights under color of law.

Related: Trans Woman Accuses Chicago Police Officer of Sexual Assault

The charge carries a potential sentence of up to one year in federal prison, with sentencing scheduled for February 23 by U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr.

The Chicago Sun-Times detailed the incident on March 5, 2019. Sajdak allegedly approached Featherstone near Kolmar and Fifth avenues in Austin, demanding she enter his squad car. After the initial refusal, he used his authority to force her into the vehicle, drove to a secluded lot, turned off his police radio and laptop, and coerced her to perform a sex act. He then attempted to give her cash.

The victim’s complaint led to a federal civil rights lawsuit, settled in April 2020, though the settlement terms have not been disclosed. Featherstone was awarded $100,000 by the city in a separate settlement, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.

Sajdak’s attorney, Tim Grace, said his client acknowledged his mistakes and was eager to move past this incident. The government’s decision to agree to a plea deal was commended by Grace, who looks forward to the sentencing.

The Chicago Sun-Times report also reveals a troubled history for Sajdak within the police department. He faced numerous citizen complaints throughout his career, with 44 complaints filed against him. Of these, one was sustained in 1997 involving the sale or possession of illegal drugs, resulting in a 30-day suspension. Furthermore, Sajdak settled a lawsuit in 2016 accusing him of harassment in a separate incident.

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