A former Chicago police sergeant on Monday pleaded guilty to a federal charge alleging he kidnapped and sexually abused someone in a squad car on the West Side in 2019.
James B. Sajdak, 65, faces up to one year in federal prison under a misdemeanor civil rights count arranged in a plea deal Monday.
The 29-year Chicago Police Department veteran was facing up to life in prison under the felony count he was indicted under last year.
Sajdak’s voice quivered with emotion as he said “guilty” to U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp Jr., who scheduled sentencing for Feb. 23.
Federal prosecutors accused Sajdak of forcing a woman into his squad car and forcing her to perform a sex act on him.
On March 5, 2019, Sajdak pulled up to a woman on the side of the street near Kolmar and Fifth avenues in the Austin neighborhood and demanded she get inside, Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Morgan said in court Monday.
After she refused, Sajdak used his authority to get her into the car, Morgan said. He then allegedly drove to an abandoned lot, turned off his police radio and laptop, and forced her to perform a sex act. He tried to give her cash afterward, Morgan said.
Prosecutors did not name the victim, but Sajdak also faced a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by Tyshee Featherstone, a transgender female, alleging Sajdak sexually assaulted her the same day.
Featherstone’s complaint was settled in April 2020, records show. The terms of the settlement have not been released.
Sajdak’s attorney, Tim Grace, said Sajdak has recognized the mistakes he made and “is happy to put this behind him and move on.”
“The government recognized this case for what it is and should be given due credit for meeting us halfway to resolve this matter,” Grace told the Sun-Times. “We look forward to sentencing.”
Sajdak pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of deprivation of rights under color of law, a criminal count that can be charged against police officers and other government officials.
Sajdak also faces up to a year of probation and a $100,000 fine.
Sajdak faced dozens of citizen complaints during his time at CPD, according to the civil lawsuit. Of the 44 complaints filed against him, the city sustained one in 1997 involving the sale or possession of illegal drugs. The result was a 30-day suspension, the lawsuit said.
Sajdak also settled a lawsuit accusing him of harassment in 2016. He allegedly ordered a woman to follow him to Homan Avenue and Roosevelt Road, where he pleasured himself in front of her between two parked cars, the lawsuit states.
Contributing: Jon Seidel