A woman was given probation and released from jail after being locked up for four months for what a Will County judge said was a “technical mistake” on her part.
Tessah S. Mitchell, 37, of Plainfield pleaded guilty Wednesday to a charge of failure to register as a sex offender while another charge of failing to register as a sex offender and going to KinderCare as a sex offender were dropped.
Mitchell, who was present at the hearing and wearing an orange jail uniform, cried at times before she made her plea before Will County Judge Dan Rippy. Her two children were in the room, along with her fiancé, Andrew Spurlock. One of Mitchell’s children cried for her.
“It’s long overdue, but she’s home,” Spurlock said after the hearing.
At 4:36 p.m. Wednesday, Mitchell was released from jail.
Mitchell was arrested Sept. 21 on a warrant that was issued for her arrest when staff at KinderCare, 2605 Black Road, Joliet, contacted the police after they saw that Mitchell, who was trying to register her two children for day care, was on the sex offender registry.
Mitchell is required to register as a sex offender after serving at least
85 percent of a 13-year prison sentence for kidnapping a baby about 20 years ago. The baby was unharmed, and Mitchell told detectives she stole the baby after suffering a miscarriage.
Since her arrest, Mitchell was held on $150,000 bond for four months, and her attorneys’ appeal to reduce the bond to $25,000 was denied at least twice.
Mitchell’s plea acknowledges that she failed to inform police of a change in her employment address within three days of it changing.
Mitchell’s attorney, Will County Assistant Public Defender Samantha LaRowe, said Mitchell didn’t switch jobs, but her employer switched locations and she failed to inform the police.
LaRowe said Mitchell has been consistently employed and cares for her two children.
“She has completely turned her life around,” LaRowe said.
Will County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney said Mitchell didn’t adhere to the law that requires her to update changes to her employment, a requirement that exists for “purposes of protecting the public.”
Rippy said Mitchell made a “technical mistake” and did not intend to hide her employer’s address or “bamboozle” Illinois State Police, the agency managing the sex offender registry.
Rippy gave Mitchell 24 months’ probation and credited her for time served in jail.
Because Mitchell’s kidnapping of a baby was not a sex-related offense, she tried to get herself switched to the violent offender against youth registry in 2012. She said her sex offender status was disrupting her “living and employment situation.”
Judge Carla Alessio Policandriotes denied Mitchell’s request to switch registries because she had no jurisdiction in the case.
Mitchell’s bond was called punitive and excessive by American Civil Liberties Union Illinois and Illinois Justice Project representatives.
“The bond imposed here just feels particularly punitive and really is just causing anguish not just to this woman, but, candidly, to her children, who are suffering for purposes which are not clear,” ACLU Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka said.
Cheney said a judge made a determination on the bond “according to various factors under statute,” and the state’s attorney’s office believed the judge made a sound decision. When asked about the basis for the decision, Cheney said it was “stated in open court.”
“We respect the determination of the court,” Cheney said.