By Jim Hagerty
ROCKFORD – A man known for carrying an American flag in Rockford parades is guilty of a 2017 sexual assault, a Winnebago County jury decided.
Jim L. Buckingham, 56, faces a total of 24 years in prison after the jury convicted him Thursday of criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse in front of Judge Brendan Maher.
Authorities say the offenses were committed last June in the 100 Block of South First Street, where Buckingham lived. That’s where a woman told police he made sexual comments to her before he raped her. A witness was in the apartment when the assault occurred, prosecutors said.
Criminal sexual assault is a Class 1 felony, punishable by a mandatory sentence of four to 15 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections and two years on parole.
Criminal sexual abuse is a Class 4 felony that comes with a sentencing range of one to three years behind bars and a year on parole.
Buckingham is eligible for an extended prison term of one to six years in prison when he’s sentenced Aug. 22. According to court records, has a 2004 conviction for retail theft and one for battery in 2011. He will be required to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence.
Buckingham, who served in the Army, had been a regular at City Council meetings and often marched in Rockford parades dressed in military camouflage and holding an American flag. He was banned from City Hall for a year in 2010 when he referred to former Mayor Larry Morrissey as a “domestic enemy” during a public speech. R.