Musician seeks order of protection against Gerard; mayor denies accusations
CHAMPAIGN — A new filing asking a judge for an order of protection against Champaign Mayor Don Gerard alleges the mayor harassed a musician during a volunteer event on Saturday.
Jim Bean, a Champaign musician, says he was in the middle of a song during the event when Gerard allegedly approached Bean and accused Bean of harassing Gerard's daughter.
Bean said the argument escalated to the point where Gerard called the police, but no one was arrested and no charges against either Bean or Gerard were filed. A summary police report only lists that "subjects (were) accusing each other of harassment — no arrests."
The Saturday afternoon incident took place during Boneyard Creek Community Day, when participants volunteered to pick up trash near the creek. Bean said the Champaign Park District had asked him to volunteer to provide entertainment during the event.
Gerard vehemently denies Bean's accusations and said Bean "wants attention. That's what he's doing."
"The guy's a sociopath," Gerard said.
In an interview with The News-Gazette on Wednesday, Gerard accused Bean of "cyberbullying" his daughter when she was 14. He said Bean made "inappropriate advances" and posted derogatory comments about his daughter on social networks.
Bean denies that he ever harassed Gerard's daughter and said he has "no idea where that came from."
"That is just so not me, anyone who knows me," Bean said. "I don't know Don's daughter. I would never harass Don's daughter."
Gerard said his daughter wants the situation to go away, and the mayor said he is nervous for his family.
"The guy's crazy," Gerard said. "The police have been monitoring his social networks for six months."
Gerard's version of the story has the mayor walking past Bean while Bean was playing music — he said Bean was the one to first yell a comment, and Gerard told him to "back off."
Gerard said Bean stopped playing "to make a point," and the argument escalated from there.
Gerard said he had his hands up in a "defensive position" during the argument, and the mayor said his comments toward Bean were a matter of defending himself.
"At some point, you get pushed and pushed," Gerard said. "I'm a public figure, but that doesn't mean I can't defend myself."
Gerard pointed out that he was the one who called police. The police did not issue citations or charges against either of the two.
"They just decided to leave it be," Gerard said. "I said I just want to be left alone."
Bean was scheduled for an initial hearing on his request for a stalking/no contact order on Tuesday morning, but the case was thrown out because Bean filed the wrong paperwork. He filed new paperwork the same afternoon and has another hearing Wednesday morning.
Christie Singer, who was at the event with her teenage daughter and her daughter's friend, said she plans to file a letter with the court supporting Bean's accusations. She said Bean and Gerard were standing nose to nose at one point.
"Jimmy was being verbally attacked," Singer said. "You can tell from body language and just from watching that."
She said she does not know Bean very well and has only met him a few times. Singer also said she did not know it was the mayor at the time of the argument, only that she "could tell that it was not good."
"I went up to another volunteer and asked, 'Who is that guy in the blue shirt and the hat and sunglasses who was talking to Jimmy?'" Singer said. "And she said, 'That's the mayor.' I said, 'You gotta be kidding me.'"
Last October, former Urbana Alderwoman Laura Huth and ex-girlfriend to Gerard asked the court for an order of protection against the mayor. She has also accused him of harassment, another allegation which the mayor denies.
A judge threw out Huth's request for an emergency stalking/no contact order, but the order of protection is pending and is set for a status hearing on Thursday.