Illinois Correctional Officer Found Guilty For Grabbing Bartender In Her Crotch
Generally, I would not think that this case would be of interest here because it’s unlike other cases I report that involve excessive use of force while on duty. This one caught my attention because we have a president in office who said when men have money, they can do whatever they want to women — even grab them in their private areas.
Donald L. Cheney, Jr. did just that, and this case shows what women have to go through and prove to get a semblance of justice.
Illinois Department of Corrections Officer Donald L. Cheney, Jr. 42-years old, has been convicted of misdemeanor battery for doing what Donald Trump said he can do because he has money. Cheney Jr. was a correctional officer at a women’s prison in Illinois.
Cheney Jr. was originally charged with felony criminal sexual abuse. He opted for a bench trial before Circuit Judge Thomas E. Griffith. Cheney’s defense filed a motion to dismiss the felony charge on the grounds that it was not proven that force was used. Judge Griffith dismissed the felony charge, but found Cheney guilty for a misdemeanor battery charge.
The victim was a 27-year old bartender who on December 19, 2015, was working at the Department of Corrections annual Christmas party. She said she walked up to the table where the defendant was sitting when he grabbed her crotch area, over her jeans.
After asking permission from the judge to use profanity, she testified that she told Cheney, “Dude, don’t get yourself knocked the (expletive) out. It’s not OK to touch me.” She shoved Cheney and backed away. The victim testified that she reported the incident to the bar’s owner, who is a friend of Cheney’s, and his response was shockingly inappropriate.
The victim decided to stay at work because she needed the job, but only if she would work behind the bar and not wait on tables.
That was not Cheney’s only victim that evening. Another woman testified that she was at the party and Cheney grabbed her crotch. That woman was a correctional officer and decided not to notify police or pursue criminal charges.
The incident happened in December 2015, but Cheney was not arrested until August 2016. It took surveillance video showing the victim pushing Cheney away for the case to get as far as it did. Cheney was suspended without pay.
Now we get into the elements to prove felony criminal sexual assault. Judge Griffith said that case law indicated that force had to be used separate from the “force inherent in the act itself.” The state would have to prove that the act was “by force or threat of force and it was an act of sexual conduct for sexual gratification or sexual arousal.”
Prosecutors argued that “the act itself was force. In order to disengage she had to push him away.” The victim is 5 feet, 3 inches tall, weighing 121 pounds, while Cheney is 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and at the time of the incident, 200 pounds. The prosecutor said there was no reason to grab a woman in that way other than for sexual arousal of gratification.
I would like for all women, and particularly women in the State of Illinois where this happened, to pay close attention to Judge Griffith’s decision. A man can walk up to you, or you can walk to the man in performing the duties of your job, and he can touch your private areas violating your body. The court considers it to be a misdemeanor because the man did not first attempt to restrain you.
On June 1, 2017, Cheney was sentenced to 24 months of probation; to perform 100 hours of community service, and to write a letter of apology to the victim. Cheney was also ordered to pay $25 a month probation services plus court costs; to continue alcohol and mental health counseling, to have no contact with the victim, and that he can possess a gun solely for employment purposes.
There are no published reports in media about Cheney’s sentencing. I went to the Macon County case records site to obtain the information.
Reference: The Herald-Review