Like I said about that Woodstock police officer… it’s not over.

I’m not saying “I told you so” because it’s not like you disagreed. Instead, I’ll just say that I’m not surprised.

Today’s update from the Northwest Herald on the Chip Amati/Woodstock police “sexy pics” saga informs us that he’s been “demoted”:

Woodstock Sgt. Amati pulled from spokesman post

Published: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 1:24 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013 1:41 p.m. CST
WOODSTOCK – Police Sgt. Charles “Chip” Amati has been removed from his position as public information officer following revelations that he sent inappropriate texts to a 12-year-old girl and misused a law enforcement database.
Woodstock Police Chief Robert Lowen and Deputy Chief John Lieb will take over as the department’s go-between with the public. Lowen said he made the decision Wednesday.
“I just feel it’s more appropriate at this time to remove those duties from Sergeant Amati and to place them with myself and Deputy Chief Lieb,” Lowen said.

Perhaps more interesting, though, is the news on the suspension.  Earlier reports (or rumors, I forget which… and it’s difficult to tell the difference these days) were that he would serve his 30 day suspension in piecemeal fashion.  There was an implication the he could pick and choose what days he’d miss, just as long as he sat out 30.  Shawn Shinneman’s article today says that’s not true:

The 30-day suspension will be served on days the department deems it won’t “impact the operations of the police department or the city,” Lowen said – not at Amati’s discretion, as previously reported.

I still say that this thing isn’t over.  It seems like the general Woodstock community is pretty fired up.  Like I said yesterday, you never know what went on behind the scenes and who investigated what. It wouldn’t surprise me if the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office as well as the Woodstock Police Department’s disciplinary responses are a direct result of the investigation they were handed by the Illinois State Police.

I suppose we will find out as the details unfold.

That Woodstock Cop Was Suspended for 30 Days and… Something Tells Me This One Isn’t Over.

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Update, December 5, 2013: The NW Herald ran an updated story today reporting that Amati has seemingly been demoted.  I’ve posted more about it here.

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Every once-in-a-while I read some crime related story and think to myself, “Hmmm… I’m not sure we’re getting the whole story.”  When I say, “every once-in-a-while” I mean it happens every single day, actually.

That’s not a gripe about media coverage, either.  Our friends in the press can only report on the trash they’re given.  The people “giving” them the information are typically the police or prosecutors office, as well.  There’s only so much detail you can report on when all of the information you have comes from an intentionally vague police report.

That’s not what happened with this story on the Woodstock Police Officer suspended for misusing the police database and asking for “sexy pics” from a 12 year old.  The story still left me wondering if there’s not a lot more to both the story and the reasoning behind the punishment, though.  As reported by the Northwest Herald in a story written by Kevin Craver (

Woodstock cop gets 30-day suspension for texts, database misuse

WOODSTOCK –  The Woodstock Police Department’s spokesman has been suspended for 30 days after an investigation into inappropriate texts to his former girlfriend’s 12-year-old daughter also revealed misuse of a state law enforcement database to look up the girlfriend’s criminal record.
Sgt. Charles “Chip” Amati, a 24-year veteran of the force, was suspended without pay for 30 days by the city’s Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, Police Chief Robert Lowen said Wednesday. But he will not face any criminal charges for either texting the girl or misusing the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System to check her mother’s background…

Because of the nature of the request for the pics and the fact that, “[m]isusing the system in Illinois constitutes official misconduct, a Class 3 felony punishable by two to five years in prison” there has been a fair amount of outrage, to say the least.  Amati has not only not been charged with a crime, he’s only been suspended 30 days.

Here’s the part where, for me, it gets weird:

Lowen said he asked the Illinois State Police to investigate on Aug. 23 after the mother came forward with the texts. State police subsequently discovered that Lowen had used the LEADS system to run her background, and submitted its findings to McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s office. Attempts to contact the state police’s press offices in Chicago and Springfield were not successful Wednesday.

I’ve underlined the parts I find most interesting.  People are outraged at the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office for not filing charges.  The interesting part to me is that Bianchi’s office didn’t do the investigation.  The ISP did.  I don’t want to read too much into the article, either, but it might be significant if the thrust of their investigation focused more on Amati’s use of LEADS than the pics, as well.

I’ve noted before that there is, at times, no greater way to get intimidated than to be a witness to potential police abuse.  This is pure speculation on my part, but if the ISP conducted this investigation in the same manner I’ve seen them investigate other allegations of police abuse, it’s possible that the the findings they’ve turned over to Bianchi’s office on the “sexting” issue didn’t leave Bianchi’s office much to prosecute.  You can read into that what you’d like- I really have no idea what actually happened.

So, I’m going to venture a guess that there’s a lot more going on with this case than meets the eye. What, exactly, I have no idea.  It’s just pretty clear that it’s not going away any time soon.  It could get interesting.

A rash of sex offenses

Anybody who has done criminal defense work knows that cases tend to come in waves.  The phone doesn’t ring for a few days, then BAM!  Three or four new clients will call in a morning.  It’s weird how that works, but that is the way it works.

Probably because arrests come in waves, too.  Noticeably this week, there seems to be a rash of arrests for sex offenses.  A laundromat in Woodstock (pictured above) is noted as the scene of events giving rise to at least one of the arrests.  According to the Northwest Herald in an article titled “Police: Man abused child at Woodstock laundromat”:

Published: Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 2:33 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Oct. 28, 2013 11:49 p.m. CDT
WOODSTOCK – A man with a long history of sexual assault made inappropriate contact with a young child at a Woodstock laundromat, police say.
[A man whose name I’ve redacted from] Woodstock, is charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse, a Class 2 felony. [He] allegedly inappropriately touched a child under the age of 13 at a laundromat at 212 Fair St…

The defendant in this one could be facing some fairly serious future repercussions.  According to the article, his

“sexual assault history dates back to when he was 21. In 1992, he was sentenced to 10 years in jail for aggravated criminal sexual assault with force and aggravated criminal sexual abuse with a victim between 13 and 16.
In 1999, he was sentenced to seven years in jail for aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child under the age of 13.
[his] criminal history also includes a felony loitering charge in 2002 and felony violations of his sex offender registry in 2005 and 2011.”

Aside from the fact that his background very well may make him “extended term eligible” (meaning he may be facing much harsher potential penalties because of his criminal past), the state may move to have him commit to a facility in a civil commitment.  While those civil commitments might look like treatment programs when you read about them, for most people they are, in essence, lifetime sentences in a commitment facility.

The Herald is also reporting on a McHenry man charged with various sex offenses.  Of interest in this case is that it seems a “mandated reporter” from a mentoring program notified the police of facts leading to the arrest.  “Mandated reporters” are people who are required, by law, to report to the police suspected child abuse or neglect.  The DCFS web page has a decent overview of who are mandated reporters and what it means to be a mandated reporter.

While not noted on there, lawyers involved in certain juvenile court proceedings may be mandated reporters.  I say may because it’s a little tricky sometimes with lawyers.  There’s that whole Constitution and attorney/client privilege thing that can (but rarely does, really) make it more complex.