Prosecutor: Frankfort’s quest to force testimony may violate victim’s rights
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com May 13, 2013 3:16PM
Updated: June 15, 2013 6:20AM
The village of Frankfort may be trampling on a crime victim’s rights by trying to force her to testify at her alleged attacker’s disciplinary hearing before a police board, a prosecutor said.
Attorneys for the village and for suspended police officer Donald Walsh, who is accused of beating his ex-girlfriend last summer, appeared before a Will County judge Monday to argue whether the woman should be forced to testify against Walsh at his hearing before the Frankfort Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.
Walsh, 29, of Monee, was arrested July 25 by Mokena police, who were called to the woman’s house about 3 a.m. by one of her children. Police say the child likely saw Walsh shouting at the victim, demanding to see her cell phone, choking, hitting and head-butting her.
Walsh also pointed a gun at his head and put the gun in his mouth, police say.
Walsh denied attacking his ex-girlfriend or threatening himself with the gun.
Dave Neal, the prosecutor on Walsh’s criminal case, told Judge Bobbi Petrungaro he believes the village’s desire to subpoena the woman violates her rights under the Illinois Crime Victims Bill of Rights.
“(The woman) says she’s afraid of Mr. Walsh,” Neal said. “The city has acknowledged ... that the victim says by being forced to testify, she’s in danger.”
Village attorney David Silverman said he believes the woman is scared, but said her fear shouldn’t stand in the way of the police chief’s desire to remove Walsh from the department.
“I think there’s no doubt that this woman’s afraid in this matter,” Silverman said. “I wish there was another way to do this. I wish there was a way to get this officer off the department without putting her through this.”
Silverman acknowledged that, if Walsh is found guilty in his felony case, he automatically will be off the police force. But if he is found not guilty, he could petition the village for reinstatement with back pay, which could add up to a lot of money, Silverman said. The village plans to proceed with the disciplinary hearing, even if Walsh is found not guilty, he said.
Petrungaro allowed Neal time to file a motion to intervene on the victim’s behalf. The case will be back in court in June.
Meanwhile, Walsh — who faces aggravated domestic battery and residential burglary charges — will be back in court on his criminal case June 18. Neal said that case may go to trial in August.