New DeWitt board member charged with aggravated battery

New DeWitt board member charged with aggravated battery

CLINTON — A man who was elected to the DeWitt County Board last month has been arrested for aggravated battery against DeWitt County Emergency Management Agency Director Teresa Barnett.

According to a report from the DeWitt County sheriff's office, Terry Hoffman, 55, who listed an address in Maroa, was arrested at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the sheriff's office.

Hoffman, who is one of seven new members of the county board, was charged with two counts of felony aggravated battery and spent the night at the DeWitt County Jail.

After Judge Dan Flannell ruled Thursday there was probable cause for Hoffman's arrest, Flannell set Hoffman's bond at $10,000.

Hoffman, who was seated on the county board on Dec. 3, was released after posting 10 percent of the bond. His next court appearance has been set for Jan. 16.

Hoffman said in a written release that Barnett invited county board members to visit her office.

"I took her up on that offer, dropping by to speak with her and other county officers Wednesday morning," Hoffman said. "Part of our discussion covered the difficulty, breadth and stress of the emergency procedures and bureaucracy for which she is responsible."

Hoffman said that, at the end of the visit, he reached over and "poked her upper arm." He said in the statement that he intended his action as "a friendly gesture of understanding."

"At no time in our discussion were harsh words exchanged," Hoffman said.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on December 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm

"Poked her upper arm" as "a friendly gesture of understanding"?  What would he have done if he was angry?  Too bad she did not "poke" his nose as a amicable gesture.  At age 55, he should know the law about touching by now.

82sage wrote on December 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm

 So quick to rush to judgement... INNOCENT until proven guilty. But that is NOT  the case today. If you are charged you have to prove you are innocent. How backwards we have become. I can NOT believe what we have become. We do not know what happened here. But just like the wisdom of Sid ( I mean no disrespect) displayed everyone assumes the guilt of the accused. ALL it TAKES is the word of someone sorry especially a woman and the arrest is made. No evedence necessary just an arrest and all the stuff that follows. If he is innocent it will not change the fact that his name is demeaned and the money he will have to spend to prove he is not guilty is crazy. IF he is innocent he will NEVER recoup the cost monetarily nor reputationaly of the price of this charge. That being said I do not know what happened. But how quick we are to throw someone under the bus that is still innocent. He has not been proven guilty... 

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 13, 2012 at 10:12 pm

He did not help himself with his televised statement on the news tonight.  He made reference to his being elected by the people for "reforming" the local services.  His statement aside, he should know by now not to "poke" with his finger, or fist another in discussions in a public place such as "her office".  Whether he is guilty, or not; a jury will decide.  Perhaps, a jury of his electorate; or perhaps, a jury which is not his electorate.  If witnesses were present is not known; but he did admit that he "poked" her on her upper arm.  That is an admission of guilt.  He would be wise to plead guilty, and apologize.  He could keep it vague as long as he keeps his mouth shut about it in the future.  You have to admit that it was a dumb thing to do.

 

TheChiefLives wrote on December 14, 2012 at 7:12 am

AGGRAVATED BATTERY???

 

The circumstances are different than what this article is implying.

Or the article is wrong.

Or it is a trumped-up charge, and it will be dismissed.

 

Those are the only 3 possible scenarios.  Aggravated Battery is a felony.  It means that SEVERE harm was inflicted, or that a weapon was used, or that it was against a police officer.

Inncoent until...

 

tsk, tsk Sid.

yeahokay wrote on December 14, 2012 at 11:12 am

There are 14 different circumstances that qualify a situation as agg. battery, many more than severe harm, weapon usage or battering a police officer. In this case I'm guessing that one of the charges was because he was in a public place (the courthouse) when their exchange took place. 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on December 14, 2012 at 9:12 am
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I completely understand his reasoning.

 

Touching people conveys human connection. It's why we shake hands. It's why Europeans kiss each other on the cheek...even the men! (Shock, outrage.) It's why we pat people on the back.

 

Lyndon Johnson and William McKinley were famous touchers, and thus very effective persuaders.

TheChiefLives wrote on December 14, 2012 at 10:12 am

No kidding.  Be careful whose hand you shake!  You may get a felony charge.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 14, 2012 at 10:12 am

Well, Chief; more will come out on the matter.  My point is simply that you do not "poke" another on the upper arm, or anywhere, for any reason if they are not a personal friend.  Grow up, Chief.  It is not the past when good ole boys were just being "friendly"; especially when the other person is a woman in her office.  Times have changed whether you, or I like it or not.  If someone had "poked" me, I would have taken it wrong perhaps because I would have "punched" him.  If it had been my wife that he "poked on the upper arm", I would have "stomped" him.  Got it..... Chief.

ClearVision wrote on December 18, 2012 at 10:12 am

That's a very enlightened attitude.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Rob;  You were not there.  You did not witness it.  My responses were only based on the printed, and televised news including the accused's personal statement.  He did not apologize for the incident.  He made comment on his "no comment".  Your examples of past politicians were past politicians prior to the laws of today.  I doubt that his attorney will appreciate his printed, and televised comments.  Either a simple "no commet", or an apology with "no further comment" would have been better responses in print, and on television.  His attorney would have appreciated that.

AerieDweller wrote on December 14, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Sorry, Chief, but there are plenty of ways "Aggravated Battery" can be committed other than the few examples you provided.

First, there's the "battery" part:

(720 ILCS 5/12-3) Battery.

    (a) A person commits battery if he or she knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.

" ...OR...makes physical contact of an insultiing or provoking nature..."

A "poke on the arm" is certainly contact, and if it's not a friend of mine doing the poking, I think I'd call it insulting or provoking.  This particular act seems a lot more antagonistic than a handshake, and I have never had someone to poke me in the arm to say, "Hey!  Great talk!  Let's do it again sometime!"

What makes it "aggravated?"

(720 ILCS 5/12-3.05): Aggravated Battery

d) Offense based on status of victim. A person commits aggravated battery when, in committing a battery, other than by discharge of a firearm, he or she knows the individual battered to be any of the following:

       (6)  An officer or employee of the State of Illinois, a unit of local government, or a school district, while performing his or her official duties.

If Hoffman was in Barnett's office and discussing Barnett's official duties, that sounds like he knew she was an officer or employee of a unit of local government.

Now, we certainly don't know the specifics of the situation, but the statute is pretty clear.  But I agree with Sid on this one -- reasonable adults shouldn't go poking people in the shoulder....

 

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on December 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm
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Not surprising. State officials tend to give themselves pay raises, great health care and pension programs too.

 

Don't look at them funny. You'll regret it.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 15, 2012 at 6:12 pm

"a unit of local government, or a school district" includes more that state officials.  I would rather believe that the elected official of the local government was unaware of the law, policies toward violence in the workplace, and contemporary non-acceptable behavior.  An apology with certification that he understands violence in the workplace policy would suffice unless the victim chooses to pursue it further.  One would hope that she would be appeased with the apology, and certification.  It would help heal any bad feelings in the community.  The next legal question would be can he maintain office if found guilty of a felony.

Best be on your best behavior around Mayor Prussing.

bmwest wrote on December 16, 2012 at 7:12 pm
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At least the Facebook poke is safe...at least I think.  But seriously, we've got to update our battery law if a simple poke in the arm to a government employee could be a felony.  I didn't catch anything in the article that indicated that she was significantly injured nor anything to suggest that it was of a sexual nature so, other than just being annoying or condescending, I don't understand the problem.  But, as others have said, we weren't there and who knows what the actual circumstances are.

rsp wrote on December 18, 2012 at 4:12 am

There are two sides to a police report, the side they release and the back which they don't. On the back they spell out things like was it really her arm or someplace else in that general area. Did it happen more that once and was he asked to stop. Was there a prior relationship. The bit about a poke on the arm comes from him, mind you. If that's all it was I really question that a police officer would arrest him and not take a report for follow-up instead. Logic says there's info being withheld. 

alabaster jones 71 wrote on December 18, 2012 at 7:12 am
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If, in fact, it was just a poke in the arm, then this charge is an absolute travesty and should never have been filed.  Mr. Hoffman's actions would have been juvenile and inappropriate in that case, but a felony?  Unbelievable.

Hopefully there was more to this case than has been disclosed...some information that would actually justify any involvement by law enforcement in this matter.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Time will tell.  If it goes to court, it will be interesting since the jurors may have differing opinions just as were expressed in the comments here.  A jury of one's peers could decide it either way based on their gender, age, and view of what is acceptable or not acceptable in public conduct.  The only facts demonstrated are that he admitted he did it in her public office, law enforcement's decision was to arrest him, and his televised statement showed no remorse for his actions.  What led up to the physical act is unknown.  Whether others witnessed the act is unknown.  We can all agree that it was a stupid, and ungentlemanly act.

Would any of the commentors poke another person with their finger when discussing public business?  Would any gentleman poke a woman with his finger when discussing public business?  Would any man poke his wife, or girlfriend with his finger when angry?  I do not view poking someone with my finger as a friendly act.  A poke in the upper arm is different from a pat on the shoulder.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 18, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Time will tell.  If it goes to court, it will be interesting since the jurors may have differing opinions just as were expressed in the comments here.  A jury of one's peers could decide it either way based on their gender, age, and view of what is acceptable or not acceptable in public conduct.  The only facts demonstrated are that he admitted he did it in her public office, law enforcement's decision was to arrest him, and his televised statement showed no remorse for his actions.  What led up to the physical act is unknown.  Whether others witnessed the act is unknown.  We can all agree that it was a stupid, and ungentlemanly act.

Would any of the commentors poke another person with their finger when discussing public business?  Would any gentleman poke a woman with his finger when discussing public business?  Would any man poke his wife, or girlfriend with his finger when angry?  I do not view poking someone with my finger as a friendly act.  A poke in the upper arm is different from a pat on the shoulder.  Basically, keep your hands to yourself.

alabaster jones 71 wrote on December 19, 2012 at 3:12 am
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I agree, it was a stupid, ungentlemanly act.  This guy sounds like a yahoo and he should keep his hands to himself.

But a felony for that?  Let's avoid charging people with felony battery unless they have actually committed an act of battery, not just if they have invaded someone's personal space.

Sid Saltfork wrote on December 19, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I am not haggling over the felony charge.  It is what it is based on current law.  My point has been that he admitted "poking her upper arm" in her office.  His televised statement at the board meeting was that he had no comment; but he went on to comment that he would continue to do what the voters elected him to do.  He said "no comment"; but he did comment.  There was no apology, or remorse stated in his comments.  He was charged by law enforcement for doing it.  Whether it should be a felony, or a misdemeanor is for a jury to decide.  He could have kept his hands to himself.  He could have apologized for the "poke".  He could have said "no comment"; and made no comment.  Yeah, it was a stupid act; and he is compounding it by being stubborn.  A jury will probably decide the matter.  He might get off with nothing because the jury may be a jury of his supporters.  He might end up with a criminal conviction because the jury may not be a jury of his supporters.  What happens if he is convicted of a felony?  Does an elected official retain office following a felony conviction?  The whole thing is a waste because of his stupid act, and subsequent stubborn act.

alabaster, what would you have done if he had "poked" you on your upper arm?  I was not raised middle class.  I grew up Blue Collar.  I would like to think that I would have verbally handled it, and walked away; but I doubt that I would have handled it that way especially in my office.  I probably would have got him, and myself charged.  I do not fault the woman for handling it the way she did.  The woman did nothing wrong. 

EL YATIRI wrote on December 20, 2012 at 7:12 am
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The State always charges as severely as possible, regardless of the merits of the case.  Then comes endless continuances until the judge is near the deadline for "speedy trial".  The day of the hearing for setting a trial date and jury selection, the plea bargain is struck, usually 5 minutes before the hearing begins.  Rarely does the State actually prove someone's guilt on the original charge.  Even if found "not guilty" on the felony, they can always go to a lesser charge and perhaps a "guilty" on a misdemeanor assault.

Our legal system is not about truth or justice, but rather a sham and disgrace just like our "democracy".

mstrom wrote on December 18, 2012 at 4:12 pm
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The only thing clear is that any kind of violence or intimidation in a work setting or any setting for that matter is not appropriate.  As for the facts of this case, we do not know them.  As usual great assumptions and suppositions are being made without knowing the facts.  The only thing we know for certain is that the charge has been made.  It is necessary to be patient in these matters as cases unfold to get a clearer picture.  Even then we are looking through the lense of what is being reported.  A police officer friend of mine told me once that the news paper gets the story mostly right about 75% of the time and the local television news gets it partially right about 25% of the time.  Most people know this, but oh how we love the sport of speculating on the fortune of others.  In yester-year, this was called gossiping over the back yard fence.