Sonia Antolec worked for the Cook County state’s attorney’s juvenile division in Chicago for six years. But after being demoted for dropping what she believed was a bad case, she has resigned.
The case Antolec dropped was a “wilding” case. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, wilding is a term used to describe when groups of youths harass, rob and terrorize people in the Loop and on the Magnificent Mile – two of Chicago’s biggest tourism draws.
The case Antolec dropped involved a woman and her mother who were mugged by several girls on a train in Chicago. When Antolec saw the police report, she read that the victims were able to identify the perpetrators. Accordingly, she approved the charges of the girls, all of whom were minors.
But when Antolec interviewed the victims she found out something crucial that was not mentioned in the police report. The victims were only asked to identify the girls from behind, not by face.
The victims could only identify one victim by a pink hoodie that she believed the mugger was wearing when she attacked. Surveillance video was of no help either.
“None of the eight girls were identified in any legitimate manner,” Antolec said.
Since none of the girls could be properly identified, Antolec dropped the case. Cook County rules state that Antolec was required to inform a supervisor of her decision. She insists that she did. But days later, Antolec was called to a meeting with her bosses to discuss why she dropped the case.
“My division chief asked me why I dismissed these cases," Antolec said. "She said we were getting ‘bad press.’ My bureau chief wanted to make sure I understood that I was employed by the grace of the state’s attorney and was trying to get me to say that I ignored a policy of notifying a supervisor when I dismissed a felony case. I didn’t notify my supervisor the day I dismissed the case. I told him ahead of time I was going to do it.”
Nevertheless, Antolec was suspended without pay for three days. Executive staff wanted her fired, but her division chief stood up for her and told executives about her perfect record with the city.
When Antolec returned from her suspension, she found she had been demoted. Feeling that she was demoted for doing the right thing, she resigned.
“While it pains me to say it … the Office’s response ultimately means that the Assistant State’s Attorneys are no longer encouraged to do the right thing first and foremost," her resignation note said. "With that shift in priorities, it is time that my service comes to an end.”
On Wednesday, a Chicago police spokesman disputed Antolec’s claim that the victims were not properly identified.
“The victims identified the offenders by face with officers, and then confirmed that they had identified the offenders in a separate interview with detectives,” spokesman Adam Collins said. “Proper and standard procedures were handled by our officers.”
But that statement from Collins now looks like a case of the police department trying to cover their own back. A statement from the desk of Cook County state attorney Anita Alvarez says proper procedures were not followed.
“A thorough investigation was conducted into this matter and it was determined that clearly defined office policies and procedures were not followed in the manner in which these cases were handled,” the statement said. “The law does not permit us to comment beyond that.”
Source/Photo Credit: Chicago Sun-Times