Judge sentences AWOL home invader, sex offender to 56 years in prison — if he is ever found

Joseph Kopacz is still on the run after he slipped out of court while a jury prepared to convict him on Nov. 8th. 

A repeatedly-convicted sex offender and burglar who fled from the Leighton Criminal Courthouse as a jury prepared to convict him of home invasion and criminal sexual abuse on Nov. 8th has been sentenced in absentia to 56-years in prison.

Joseph Kopacz, 54, had been free on $500,000 bail since shortly after he was accused of entering a Lakeview man’s home, crawling into the victim’s bed, and sexually abusing him in October 2016.

But on Nov. 8th, as the jury deliberated for a little over an hour, Kopacz walked out of the courthouse. He did not return for the reading of the verdict that afternoon and he has not been seen since.

With Kopacz still on the loose, Judge Thaddeus Wilson has now handed down the prison sentence, giving Kopacz 18 days of credit for time served in jail pre-trial, and fining him $1,414. Wilson also forfeited Kopacz’s $500,000 bail.

“I still feel unsafe knowing that this man is out in the world somewhere and not in a jail cell,” the victim in the case said in a written impact statement. “I constantly fear for others that he’s doing the same thing to them right now somewhere.”

“I still have nightmares about this man. I still lay awake at night thinking about the way he violated me all the time,” the man said. “I still wonder what else he may have done to me that didn’t come up in his testimony or come out from the photos that were released.”

Wisconsin and Illinois records show that Kopacz has been repeatedly arrested and charged with cases similar to the Lakeview home invasion since 1990. Young men—usually in their 20s—have told police in multiple jurisdictions that they awakened in their own beds to find Kopacz, a stranger, standing over them or sexually abusing them.
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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com