Victim sues five accused of beating him
By Janet Lundquist firstname.lastname@example.org February 6, 2013 3:14PM
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:36AM
Thomas Lerch still is recovering from a brutal beating last fall that left him with a fractured skull and face.
He hasn’t been able to return to his job as a truck driver because of his injuries, his lawyer said.
But he’s found a way to fight back — taking his alleged attackers to court.
“I think he’s demonstrating significant courage in refusing to lay down and simply be beaten,” said Lerch’s lawyer, Michael Bolos. “We hope to call upon the services of the good people of Will County to afford Thomas some justice.”
Lerch, of the 400 block of Dalhart Avenue in Romeoville, filed a lawsuit Tuesday against his ex-girlfriend, Lana Richards, 44, her daughter, Melissa Richards, 25, of Homer Glen, and three of Melissa’s friends — Kurt Hodges, 27, Gregory Kijek, 26, and Johnathan Bolisenga, 29, all of Lockport — seeking more than $50,000 in damages as well as punitive damages.
All of the defendants in Lerch’s lawsuit except Bolisenga are also facing criminal charges of aggravated battery for allegedly beating Lerch outside his home. Bolisenga is facing a charge of obstructing justice.
Jeff Tomczak, the lawyer who represents Lana Richards, said Wednesday Lerch testified under oath during a court hearing that Richards did not participate in inflicting his injuries.
Attorneys for the other defendants could not be reached for comment.
The attack on Sept. 3 has changed Lerch’s life, Bolos said.
“It’s been utterly devastating,” Bolos said. “(Lerch’s) long-term prognosis is very much uncertain.”
The trouble began when Lerch picked Lana Richards up at 3 a.m. Sept. 3 from a party she had attended with her daughter in Lockport.
She was drunk, and didn’t want to leave, according to Lerch’s account of the incident in a petition for no contact he filed in September. Eventually, she got in Lerch’s car and yelled at him as he drove her back to their residence.
They argued at home, she hit him in the eye and ran to a neighbor’s house, he said.
Five minutes later, Romeoville police were at his door. He told them what happened and said he didn’t care whether she was arrested.
The police took Richards to the station, where she called her daughter for a ride — and allegedly told her that Lerch had beat her up.
When Melissa Richards told her friends what her mother said, they all drove to the police station, picked up Lana Richards, and headed over to Lerch’s house, according to the lawsuit.
They rang his doorbell and yanked him outside when he opened the door, Lerch wrote.
While Hodges punched him, Melissa Richards kicked him and Bolisenga egged them on. Meanwhile, Lana Richards and Kijek took his cellular phone, wallet, laptop and cash from his house, Lerch wrote.
Then Kijek bashed his head with a golf club, he said. When he screamed, Hodges put a knife to his throat and threatened to cut him, Lerch wrote.
“I crawled to the neighbors and called 911,” Lerch wrote. He eventually underwent emergency surgery to remove fragments of bone from his brain and implant steel mesh over his skull fracture, he said.
The five are due in court March 6 on their criminal cases, while the first court appearance on Lerch’s lawsuit is scheduled for May 28.