The 10 Illinois Cities With The Most Violent Crime

Chicago has made national headlines over the past few years as gun violence continues to plague the city, but the 2013 FBI crime statistics uncovered a few more Illinois cities rocked by violent crime. Here are the Top 10 Illinois cities with the most violent crime (Chicago excluded).

1. Rockford
2. Springfield
3. Peoria
4. Champaign
5. Aurora
6. Joliet
7. Harvey
8. Waukegan
9. Bloomington
10. Decatur

Rockford Illinois

Looking Deeper

For their analysis, researchers categorized violent crime as a range of acts, including murders, rapes, robberies and property crimes, like burglaries and auto thefts. According to the statistics, Rockford, Illinois, comes in at number one for violent crime, with 2,065 reports of violent crime per 100,000 residents. Rockford also had the most reported murders with 19, again outside of Chicago.

Other facts about the FBI Crime statistics include:

  • Harvey, which only has a population of 25,500, had a whopping 10 murders in 2013.
  • Aurora has the most violent crime of any Chicago suburb, with 601 instances per 100,000 residents.
  • Cairo, a city of only 2,608 residents, had 22 reported cases of arson in 2013.
  • Albers, with a population of 1,187, is the largest city in Illinois with no reports of any type of violent crime in 2013.
  • Chicago excluded, there were 202 reported murders in Illinois in 2013.

Although the FBI stated that crime in Chicago is underreported, city data reveals that there were about 204,000 violent crimes in The Windy City in 2013. Additionally, there were 414 murders, 11,000 robberies and 7,500 instances of violent crime per 100,000 residents.

The FBI said the data should be used to determine how local and state officials can best prevent crime in areas that are most affected by violence.

Related source: CBS Local

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Examining Crime on Illinois College Campuses

Illinois Campus CrimeA report on crime on college campuses found that more sexual offenses occur at the University of Illinois than any other state school, but another school is home to more robberies and aggravated assaults.

Considering the University of Illinois has nearly twice as many enrolled students than any other school on the list, it’s not too surprising it tops the list, but it’s the University of Illinois at Chicago that has the most reported robberies and aggravated assaults. UIC is second in the state in enrollment with 27,589 enrolled students.

The annual campus security reports are due each year by October 1 and are required under the Clery Act, which was established in 1991. The Clery Act was established after 19-year-old Jeanne Clery was raped and murdered in her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986.

Campuses are required to report all crimes that fall under these seven categories.

  • Criminal homicide
  • Sex offenses
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Arson

Campus Statistics

Three of the most common offenses committed on college campuses are sexual offenses, assaults and robberies. Below, you can see which state schools reported the most of each offense in 2013.

Sex Offenses

1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 20 reports.

2. Northern Illinois University – 12 reports.

3. Eastern Illinois University – 11 reports.

Assaults

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 36 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 23 reports.

3. Southern Illinois University Carbondale – 16 reports.

Robberies

1. University of Illinois at Chicago – 16 reports.

2. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign – 12 reports.

3. Northern Illinois University – 6 reports.

Thankfully, no murders occurred on Illinois college campuses in 2013. For an in-depth look at the statistics, check out this infographic.

Related source: Huffington Post

Illinois Law: Sex Offenders and Halloween 

Illinois Halloween LawsHalloween is just around the corner, and children will soon be running up and down driveways in hopes of filling their candy bucket to the brim. We’re often busy on Halloween too, as the night usually brings a spike in calls for certain juvenile crimes like ding dong ditching and vandalism.

Halloween night carries a common theme for anyone with a child; Be mindful of strangers. Parents usually chaperone younger kids on their Halloween jaunt, and oftentimes they’ll inspect the candy before the tired youngsters dive into a late-night sugar rush, but police are once again providing parents with a Halloween safety tip – Avoid homes where the lights are off. Maybe the lights are off because nobody is home or they simply don’t want to be disturbed, but there could be another reason. The person inside could be a sex offender.

That line isn’t meant to postulate that every dark house is home to a pedophile, but the fact of the matter is that Illinois passed a law last year called the Child Sex Offender Holiday Costume Prohibition law. Terms of the law state that convicted sex offenders are prohibited from participating in a holiday event with children under the age of 18. This means that sex offenders are forbidden from handing out candy on Halloween.

“If the lights aren’t on at the residence, don’t go up to the door,” said O’Fallon Police Lt. Jim Cavins. “What sex offenders must do … similar to somebody who doesn’t want to deal with trick-or-treaters … they have to turn out their outside lights.”

Similar to last Halloween when the law went into effect, police officers will be completing compliance checks to ensure offenders are following the law. If an officer finds that an offender is in violation of the law, they could face revocation of parole and additional jail time.

We’re not trying to scare anyone with this post, and the vast majority of reformed sex offenders want nothing to do with handing out candy on Halloween, but a simple reminder of the law can’t hurt.

Follow these tips to have a safe and happy Halloween!

1.  Trick or Treat in well-lit, familiar neighborhoods.

2.  Always make sure children are supervised by an adult.

3.  Bring a flashlight to see where you are going (and to help others see you!)

4.  Report any suspicious behavior to the proper authorities.

5.  If you or a family member runs into legal trouble on Halloween night, give Appelman & Associates a call.

Related source: Belleville News-Democrat

Lake County Police Officer Charged With Soliciting Woman For Sex

Text message trailA sheriff’s deputy in Lake County has been charged with obstruction of justice and soliciting a sex act despite attempting to cover up his tracks by deleting over 50 messages between himself and the woman in question.

Eric Francke, the deputy at the center of the case, was in court Thursday as opening arguments began. The woman in question failed to appear in court, which later resulted in the suspension of the trial, but prosecutors still laid out their argument that Francke was attempting to solicit sex. According to the prosecution, some of the deleted texts mentioned a price of $300 an hour, and Francke’s home address.

Francke’s attorney, Chris Lombardo, said much of the evidence against his client was circumstantial, and no money ever exchanged hands. According to Lombardo:

  • None of the text messages mentioned a sex act.
  • Francke never gave money to the woman.
  • The woman was never charged with a crime.
  • Prosecutors couldn’t prove that Francke deleted the texts to hide them.
  • When first questioned about the incident, Francke told investigators he had been trying to hire a masseuse to help relieve pain caused by leg cramps.

Authorities were tipped to Francke’s actions by a routine traffic stop.  According to the police report, an officer stopped a vehicle that was driving without its lights on. Two men and a woman were inside the vehicle, and the two men told the officer they had arranged for the female passenger to have sex with clients for money. They informed the officer that they had just finished up at one house, and they were on the way to the next stop, which turned out to be Francke’s address.

The woman was scheduled to appear in court Thursday, but she did not show. Court was adjourned until authorities could learn more about her whereabouts.

Attorney Sean Sullivan comments

What this goes to show is that time and again, innovations in technology are having major implications in criminal law.  Again we have a case where text messages create an electronic trail of evidence that is used to help prove someone’s guilt. The advances in technology are great – they improve our quality of life in many areas. But people need to be mindful of what they are putting out there into the world. More and more these days as a defense attorney I see text messages and social media posts being used as evidence against them in criminal proceedings.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Alleged Rapist, Murderer Released after Prosecution Drops Charges

CC image Wikipedia.orgTwo Illinois men, one serving time on a rape charge, the other serving 82 years for his role in a fatal shooting, were released from prison Tuesday after prosecutors dropped the charges against both men.

Carl Chatman and Lathierial Boyd were ordered to be released immediately after deeper investigations into their cases revealed that there was a strong likelihood the men were innocent.

Sound Familiar?

Rape is one of the most heinous crimes a person can commit, and oftentimes these trials come down to a “he said, she said” argument. In the case of Carl Chatman, a homeless man with a history of mental illness, the jury chose to believe the story of the alleged victim, even though there was no physical evidence to tie him to the crime.

Although the victim said Chatman sexually assaulted her, authorities never found any DNA or evidence of sexual assault on the victim, and nobody reported seeing the man in the building where the alleged attack took place. Authorities caught a break in the case when Chatman admitted to committing the crime, but doctors who analyzed the homeless man said he suffered from schizophrenia and had a low IQ, which made him susceptible to providing a false confession.

What’s disturbing about the case is what was later uncovered by a deeper investigation. It was revealed that the rape claim came only weeks after the victim was served an audit by the IRS, and Chatman’s attorney said the victim also had thousands of dollars in casino losses.

“There was no rape. This never happened,” said Russell Ainsworth, who represented Chatman during his appeal. “This was fabricated by a vindictive woman who did this for monetary gain.”

In fact, this wasn’t the first time the woman claimed to be raped by someone who had little means to defend themselves. The woman claimed a janitor raped her in 1979, and the similarities between the alleged assaults are striking. In both cases:

  • The victim arrived at work early in order to take care of some extra business.
  • She claims a man threatened her with a weapon (in one case, a scissors, in the other, a knife) when she was alone at the office.
  • The defendants said they believed the allegations were motivated by money.
  • The victim sued for monetary damages after the criminal charges were brought.

In the 1979 claim, the victim was a Polish national who fled the United States before his trial. Before leaving, he penned a note to the judge, strongly asserting his innocence. He claimed he only fled because he could not possibly raise the money that would be required to defend himself in court, and he said he believed the claim was an attempt by the victim to get a quick paycheck.

“If she only made this whole thing up to make some money, she should earn money honestly and not like this,” the janitor’s letter said.

The woman later reached a settlement with the county building commission and a private security firm that was tasked with guarding the building during the first assault. One of the defense attorneys who worked on the case said his team concluded the woman made a false accusation, but they were never able to prove it.

Ainsworth said the second rape charge should have raised many red flags when it was first brought to court.

“It just seemed odd that both rapes were under almost identical circumstances,” he said.

Who Pulled the Trigger?

Lathieral Boyd was sentenced to 82 years in prison in 1990 after a jury ruled he killed one man and injured another over a drug debt. The strongest evidence against Boyd was provided by the wounded man, who initially told police he didn’t know who shot him, but later changed his story and said it was Boyd.

Furthermore, when Boyd was placed in a police lineup, none of the nine witnesses identified Boyd as the shooter. He claimed he was at his sister’s home watching a basketball game at the time of the shooting, and both his sister and a Cook County sheriff’s deputy testified to Boyd’s presence at the home, yet the jury still convicted him.

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said the decision to vacate the conviction was due in large part to a separate investigation launched by the Conviction Integrity Unit, which works to reverse wrongful convictions.

“Above all else, our work as prosecutors is about seeking justice even if that measure of justice means that we must acknowledge failures of the past,” she said.

Sean Sullivan comments

What troubles me most about the cases is the startling lack of evidence in them. I am at a loss to understand how the cases were brought in the first place. Reasonable doubt is a term everyone knows from television and movies, but I do not think people truly know what it means in the context of a criminal trial. It means if there is any reason or uncertainty as to any fact proving someone is guilty of a crime, then the case should be dismissed. In these cases, there seems to multiple instances of reasonable doubt.

Particularly so in the case of Mr. Boyd. He should have been cleared as a suspect early in the investigation such that his case should never have gone to trial. He had a solid alibi confirmed by credible witnesses, and was never identified by any witness despite participating in multiple lineups. It is awful to think that innocent men can be imprisoned.

Related source: Chicago Tribune

Lengthy Legal Battle Ahead for “Fifty Shades of Grey” Divorce Case

CC image Wikipedia.orgA marriage that began in 2005 has ended with a lawsuit alleging sexual assault, battery, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the federal case that was heard this week.

Kimberley O’Brien took the stand Tuesday to testify against her husband Kevin Anderson, from whom she filed for divorce from in 2006.  Astonishingly, the federal civil case had been litigated for seven years before O’Brien had the ability to take the stand in her defense.

In her suit, O’Brien claims that she and Anderson lived a luxurious lifestyle that included trips to Switzerland and Italy, but their marriage took a turn shortly after they exchanged vows.

According to O’Brien, she was sexually assaulted on her honeymoon in California.  O’Brien claims Anderson struck her in the back of the head, tied her up and sexually violated her.  She also states that Anderson left her bound overnight.

“You will never tell anyone about this and if you are a good slave this will never happen again,” Anderson allegedly told O’Brien the next morning.

O’Brien also claims that Anderson made her walk around their house naked and told her to refer to him as “master”.

“It was the biggest mistake of my life ever being with this man,” O’Brien said in court.

Husband Claims Mutual Relationship

Anderson said the relationship was nothing more than two consenting adults living out their fantasies. According to him, it was O’Brien who brought the sadomasochist fantasies into the bedroom, and she wanted to be tied up on their honeymoon.

She said, “This is our last night here – let’s go big,” according to Anderson’s attorney Chris Cole.  Anderson’s attorney also states that the couple decided on a safe word, but O’Brien never used it during their sexual romp.

Millions of Dollars at Stake

The case has received national attention because of the amount of money at stake.  O’Brien is seeking $10 million in damages for her pain and suffering.  Anderson’s camp believes O’Brien is simply trying to seek a quick payday.

“This is a case largely driven by revenge and greed,” said Cole.

One of the biggest reasons this case has taken so long is because the couple seemed more interested in a “master-slave” contract than a prenuptial agreement.  Family Law Attorney Sean Sullivan said finances and property holdings should always be examined before a couple gets married, especially when a vast amount is involved.

What strikes me most is that this case has been litigated for 7 years.  The main reason for this is because there is a marital estate that reaches into the millions. With an estate that large, both sides would have been better served entering into a pre-marital agreement. They could have avoided such prolonged litigation and saved thousands in legal fees by agreeing before this marriage even occurred that there would be an equitable division of the marital estate in the event the marriage broke down.

If two parties are contemplating marriage and the marital estate in question has significant financial resources, then the parties are much better off entering into a pre-marital agreement. Some people feel these are not romantic and it means the marriage is doomed from the start. I look at them in much more of a practical light. I hope the parties live happily ever after and any pre-marital agreement drafted never has to be enacted. But if things do not work out, then a carefully drafted pre-marital agreement can save both parties time and money lost arguing in court.

This will no doubt be a difficult case for jurors to decide on. They are tasked with deciding if these acts that occurred were the result of abuse and coercion or choices made by consenting adults. What is interesting is that this case was brought as a civil case and not a criminal case. If these acts were forced on her as the wife claims, then the husband’s conduct amounts to criminal action. However, if this was indeed shared sexual interests and the parties entered into the acts voluntarily, then the root of this case is decidedly something else entirely.  

Related source:  Chicago Tribune

Illinois Mandates Sexual Abuse Education in Public Schools

Illinois has passed a new law that requires all public schools to teach age-appropriate sexual assault and abuse awareness in their curriculum.

Governor Pat Quinn signed the measure known as Erin’s Law on Thursday, saying “those who are victims, we want to not only protect them but help them become survivors.”

The measure was named after 27-year-old Erin Merryn, who was sexually abused as a child and forced to endure the abuse for seven years before she had the courage to speak out.  Merryn has been pushing for the law for three years, and Thursday’s signing brought an overwhelming sense of relief.

“You do not know how joyous this is for me, how hard I’ve worked for this,” Erin said.

Merryn was the victim of sexual abuse from the ages of 6-8, and again from 11-13.

The governor signed the bill at The Children’s Advocacy Center of North and Northwest Cook County, the same place Erin first spoke up against her abuse.  She hopes the adoption of the bill will help children identify the signs of abuse and speak up sooner.

“This is a place I walked into scared and terrified that I wasn’t going to be believed,” said Erin.  “I never would have imagined 15 years later I would be walking through these doors getting a law passed to give kids a voice in the same place I found my voice.”

Although the bill is the first unfunded mandate in two years, it gives schools the flexibility to decide how they’ll teach the age-appropriate awareness.  Schools can pay to have an outside agency develop a curriculum, or they can teach their staff how it should be implemented.  Merryn says she doesn’t want to negatively impact any school budgets, and she hopes educators train their own staff to talk about sexual assault and abuse.

“Schools don’t just need to hire someone to come in (from) outside the school,” Merryn said. “You’ve got the staff right there that you already pay that are capable of teaching this, with the proper training.”

The law requires abuse education to be taught to children starting in pre-kindergarten.  Merryn said the age-appropriate awareness could be as simple as identifying who to talk to if children have questions or concerns.

Now that Erin’s Law has been passed at the state level, Merryn said she hopes to push for nationwide adoption.

“My innocence was killed, my trust was taken, but I reclaimed my voice and I want every victim of sexual abuse to do the same,” Erin said.

Illinois Attorney Miriam Szatrowski comments

This law, if implemented effectively, will help children understand what sexual abuse is, and where to go for help to make it stop. It may also aid law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting these cases by encouraging victims to come forward immediately, when the evidence and memories of the abuse are still fresh, instead of waiting weeks, months, or even years out of fear or shame.

This may also have the effect of preventing wrongful convictions, because any exculpatory evidence is also more likely to be available if allegations are made sooner.

It is important for people to know that if they are accused of any type of sexual abuse, they should talk to a lawyer immediately, and should not make any statements to police or anyone else before they have spoken with a lawyer.

Related source:  ABC, Chicago Tribune