URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — A Ford County man was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison on Friday after he pleaded guilty earlier this year to attempting to kidnap a woman.

Paul Theesfield, 38, of Roberts pleaded guilty on July 6 to the crime he was accused of committing in Gibson City two years ago on Dec. 5, 2020. On that day, Theesfield drove his SUV past a woman several times while she was walking on Wood Street and then hit her with the car. He said he planned to incapacitate her with the vehicle strike, kidnap her and then sexually assault her out of town.

His plan was foiled when the woman recognized him as he approached and screamed. Theesfield went back to his home in Roberts where he and the SUV were found by Ford County Sheriff’s deputies. He initially told deputies that he hit the woman by accident but later admitted his kidnapping plan.

Theesfield used to be the Water Superintendent for the Villages of Roberts and Elliott. When deputies searched the Roberts Water House after his arrest, they found handcuffs, wire rope chockers, duct tape and an electric cattle prod.

At the sentencing hearing on Friday, federal prosecutors presented evidence that indicated Theesfield also committed a similar kidnapping attempt in Champaign more than 10 years ago. On Sept. 25, 2009, Theesfield is said to have hit a woman walking on the sidewalk with a car and then tried to tie her up. The victim fought back and eventually got free.

Theesfield is said to have driven away from that scene and remained unidentified until his 2020 arrest, when prosecutors said the victim from the 2009 kidnapping attempt identified Theesfield as her attacker.

At sentencing, Theesfield requested a sentence of five years in prison, but U.S. District Judge Colin Bruce rejected this request and imposed a sentence of 12 years plus three years on parole. Bruce agreed with prosecutors’ argument that a lengthy prison sentence was necessary to protect the public from further crimes Theesfield might commit.