Cook County Judge Thomas Fecarotta handed down the sentence on 19-year-old Demarco Whitley after hearing the girl testify she still suffers the effects of attack, the Sun-Times is reporting.
"I get nightmares all the time and recurring flashbacks," she testified Tuesday morning.
Prosecutors said Whitley attacked the teen about one hour before he and another student were involved in a fatal car crash.
Whitley received the minimum sentence allowed under the law. But that minimum is, as the judge pointed out, nearly as long as he's been alive.
Whitley remained calm during most of the hearing but when the judge asked him if there was anything he wanted to say, Whitley stood up and said, "Judge, I want you to know, I'm not that type of person. I just want to say I'm sorry."
And while Fecarotta questioned whether Whitley was just sorry or truly remorseful, after today's hearing, his defense attorney insisted he is.
"I don't think he has the ability or the maturity to express what he wanted to express," attorney Donna Rotunno said."He's very remorseful. He's very remorseful. He's very sorry. He's very sad.
"It's hard for me to watch a 19-year-old kid going away for that period of time," attorney Donna Rotunno said. "I guess when you look at the totality of the circumstances it could have been worse."
Fecarotta last month convicted Whitley on four counts of felony criminal sexual assault for the Jan. 29, 2010, crime. Whitley had contended the sexual encounter with the girl was consensual, but Fecarotta last month called his testimony "not only unbelievable but poorly contrived."
The girl testified Tuesday she missed weeks of school after the attack.
"I didn't want to get out of bed. I felt like a disgusting person," she said. "I couldn't look in the mirror because I didn't know how this could've happened to me."
She asked Fecarotta to hand down a heavy punishment on Whitley.
"A long jail sentence will give me security," she said.
Whitley admitted lying when first questioned by police, telling them he could not remember anything about the sexual encounter because of his crash injuries.
The teen told her mother about the assault the next morning, then offered similar, consistent accounts to police, a nurse and prosecutors.
Whitley offered a completely different account, insisting Washington-Steel called the girl earlier that day to arrange a sexual encounter with her, then drove him to Rolling Meadows that evening to meet her.
After the girl had sex with him and Washington-Steel, they dropped her off at a friend's house, bought gas and pizza, then Whitley and Washington-Steel were driving back to their DuPage County homes when the car struck a utility pole. The crash occurred barely an hour after they had dropped off the girl, authorities said.
Washington-Steel, a popular star on Glenbard West's powerhouse football team, died a few days later of his injuries. Whitley, who was badly injured in the crash, was charged earlier this year. after he recovered and after DNA tests were completed.
Fecarotta in his ruling said Whitley's testimony was inconsistent and often unbelievable, including his claims he never talked to the girl in the car -- not even to exchange names -- but still had consensual sex with her.