Judge denies musician's request for no-contact order against Gerard

URBANA — A Champaign County judge ruled in favor of Champaign Mayor Don Gerard on Thursday, saying that an argument that occurred between him and a musician in a park in April did not constitute stalking.

Champaign musician Jim Bean had filed a petition asking that Gerard have no contact with him after the two exchanged words at Scott Park on a Saturday afternoon in early April, following a volunteer creek cleanup event.

After three hours' worth of witness testimony on Thursday, Judge Holly Clemons said Gerard was "guilty of poor judgment and ill-advised behavior" and probably has "anger-control issues," but he was not guilty of what Bean had described as stalking. She denied Bean's request for a no-contact order against Gerard.

Bean and Gerard both took the stand on Thursday, and in each of their stories, the other was the aggressor. Bean was volunteering to provide music entertainment during a lunch event following the cleanup and Gerard attended in his role as the mayor.

As Gerard walked through the park, they caught each other's attention and got into a verbal argument at least a couple times over the span of a few minutes.

"My intent was to avoid him," Gerard testified. "He was staring at me and I thought I heard him say something to me."

The incident escalated from there and ended with Gerard calling the police. Neither was ever charged with a crime.

Brad Bielert, an Urbana Park District employee who was working the event that day, was ordered to testify on Thursday under subpoena. He said what he saw was an aggressive Gerard in "a very animated, one-sided argument."

"It just looked aggressive," Bielert said. "I'm not saying it was, but it definitely looked aggressive."

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Importantlocalopinion wrote on May 09, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Much ado about nothing. Even if you believe everything the musician says, it was a single heated arguement. People are so litigious these days. You cant make a law that outlaws poor judgement and anger or we would all be locked up at some point in our lives.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on May 09, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I was in court today for the entire hearing, and there is more to the story than what's been reported. Clemons did say that she found Bielart to be a credible witness, and he testified that Gerard was the aggressor. However, the incidents that were discussed in court did not meet the legal grounds to grant the order of protection. Clemons made her ruling based on what the law says. 

When the News-Gazette reported this story, they quoted Gerard as claiming that Bean is a sociopath, and that the police were investigating him. I put in FOIA requests to the city, and can state that it's not true that there is a police investigation. I also got a copy of the police report, and it was the officer who spoke to Bean who recommended that he file an order of protection.  It's also interesting that when Gerard made the call to police that he contacted the non-emergency number, and I have the audio file of the call as well. Gerard certainly did not sound like he was scared. Neither was Gerard able to produce any credible evidence that Bean was harassing his family, like he earlier claimed. 

Both Gerard and his attorney were sitting outside of the courtroom before the proceedings began. Yet, when the proceedings began the lawyer spent 15 minutes of the courts time filing paperwork establishing himself as the attorney. That is something he could have done before court was in session, and I suspect that Radcliffe chose to delay it until he could see who showed up. Radcliffe also claimed that he and Gerard did not discuss the case until this morning, yet he is the lawyer who is representing him in the Huth case. Radcliffe has appeared in court on behalf of Gerard since Bean did the initial filing, so I find it hard to believe that they did not discuss the case until this morning. 

I also have a copy of the papers filed in the Huth case. Huth broke off her relationship with Gerard after she found out that he was cheating on her with a married woman. Since then he has tried to destroy her professionally, threatened to file a police report when she removed her items from his home (with his permission), and has engaged in a pattern of conduct that illustrates that he does have issues with controlling and managing his anger. 

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxBrkiWJHcQ6YlNNVUxZZWdadkk/edit

I've scanned and uploaded the court documents so that anyone should be able to access it. It's public information. 

Do we want to have an elected representative in Champaign who loses his temper in a public place and who proceeds to tell lies about it? Perhaps Gerard will find this to be a wake up call, and will change his tune. However, I wouldn't be surprised if we don't end up hearing about more 'incidents' like this. 





 

thelowedown wrote on May 10, 2013 at 12:05 am

"I was in court today for the entire hearing, and there is more to the story than what's been reported. [...] Clemons made her ruling based on what the law says." Okay, then give it a rest Marti. Doesn't matter whether there is "more to the story" because there isn't as far as the law is concerned.

 

"It's also interesting that when Gerard made the call to police that he contacted the non-emergency number." Okay, people do this all the time. Police departments recommend doing this for crimes that are not in progress or other incidents that may demand a police presence, such as altercations. It doesn't matter if someone sounds scared or not. 

 

It's embarrassing for these things to keep popping up for Gerard and he may have an anger issue, but as far as the law is concerned, he has yet to do something that rises to an actionable punitive level.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on May 10, 2013 at 2:05 am

The law may have come down on Gerards side in his case, but he has another case pending in the system, and if anyone wants to read the pertinent documents I posted a link.

I've heard from a few people who seem to want to co-sign on the mayors sleazy conduct because they think he is a 'nice guy' and that he has done some good things for the community. By that same token, I've heard from individuals who have had the misfortune of getting on his bad side, and seeing his vindicitive streak come alive.

Gerard is an embarrassment to the community and a disgrace to the office that he holds.


 

 

rsp wrote on May 10, 2013 at 3:05 am

Why is any of this your business? Seriously. Don't you have anything else to do with your time than to monitor someone else's break-up? Are you stalking them now? Posting their information online to further your agenda? Why don't you call Laura and ask her if she wanted you to make her documents so available to everyone. 

Marti Wilkinson wrote on May 10, 2013 at 6:05 am

With all due respect rsp: The court records are public information, and I believe people have the right to know what kind of person has been trusted with the leadership of Champaign. Posting information that is part of the public record is not stalking and if you have a problem with it then don't read it. Having read previous posts by you on this, I got the impression that you are supportive of the mayor. That is your right as a citizen. 

This is not just about a couple of arguments that have gone awry, and if you want to continue believing that we are discussing a dispute between two men or a love affair gone wrong, then keep drinking the KoolAid. No wonder Mark Sanford was able to get elected to congress after using taxpayers resources to finance his extramarital affairs. I used to believe that we could hold politicians on the local and regional levels more accountable for their actions, and I guess that our current mayor is managing to prove me wrong. 

What business is this of mine? I am a taxpayer and a resident of Champaign. I have the right to know if an elected official is using municipal resources to bully and harass other citizens. In the documented paperwork Gerard has threatened city prosecution against his former girlfriend. That is a taxpayer resource, and it is absolutely my business to state that it's innappropriate for Gerard to have done this. It's also nice to know that our mayor has spent a lot of his time and energy contacting her clients, and trying to destroy her business. Shouldn't he be spending that time and energy on the city of Champaign instead?

A few months later we have police called to a scene after the mayor started an argument with another person, and an employee who was working at the event testified to that. Bean also submitted a letter from another witness who supported his version of events. Last I checked, law enforcement is also supported with taxpayers dollars and so is the non-emergency number that Gerard called. Is it really okay with the residents of Champaign for Gerard to start an altercation, and then call the police to clean up his mess? Gerard wasn't able to produce any witnesses to support his version of the events, and I find that very telling. 

If Gerard was just a member of Joe Q. Public I wouldn't care, but he is an elected official and needs to be held accountable for his actions. One thing I see residents of Illinois complain about is the corruption of the Chicago political machine, and their local leaders.  I guess that we really can't claim to be much better if we let our own leaders abuse the resources that have been entrusted to them. 




 

 

ForBubby wrote on May 10, 2013 at 9:05 am

We, the public, have to make our elected officials accountable for their actions.  If we do not then shame on us.  We need to have confidence that they can be effective leaders and not use their power for their own personal vendettas.

He is good about spreading lies.  Just ask the family of the dog that was blatantly gunned down at the corner of Crescent and John by an irresponsible officer.  He has sent emails to constituents stating that the family has filed a lawsuit (I assume to try to discredit them).  All they want is for the city to hold the officer accountable for his actions. At this time no lawsuit has been filed in any public records on line.

 

alumni90 wrote on May 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

The mayor of Champaign is not the only City of Champaign employee who is in the position of power and has anger management issues.  I realize that Gerard is an elected city official; but, as the leader of a city; he has been allowed to set the tone that it is acceptable that any City of Champaign supervisor can use their supervisory position to be a bully with anger management issues.


The mayor should be held to higher standards.  The public is so quick to judge the conduct and the actions of police officers; but, apparently not the mayor.


I wonder if the mayor knows that the city offers a EAP program for its employees to help with his anger management issues.


 

read the DI wrote on May 10, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Marti, as long as you are trying take the responsible road, you should come clean regarding your own personal relationship with Gerard. Biases are biases. That Gerard is supportive of the local police while you have been for years an unabashed critic clearly colors your world view.

As for the cheating stuff, that's an ugly accusation, and this is not the forum for it. Take it up with Gerard on your own time, but please be a little more civil here.

 

Marti Wilkinson wrote on May 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Since Gerard has taken office a new Chief of Police has taken the helm, and replaced Finney. Since my 'unabashed' criticisms of the police have stemmed from incidents that have happened under Finney's/Schweigharts watch, it would really be unfair of me to criticize Gerard for the perceived shortcomings of his predecessor.  So I have no issue with the mayor in regards to his relationship with the police. Gerard favored, and I fully supported, his desire to retain needed support staff.

Additionally, I believe that the current contract between the Champaign Police Department and the city has also taken steps to include residency requirements. If that is the case, then I applaud the efforts made by Gerard and council members in that regards.  In the past I have also mentioned officers with whom I have had positive interactions with (ie: Lt. Swan), and I believe that would certainly balance any criticisms that I have had. I hope that addresses your concerns regarding my past criticisms of local law enforcement.

Other posters have previously painted Gerards former girlfriend as having been dumped by the mayor. According to court records that is not the case, and the documents specify why. I simply restated what the documents have shared, and if you find it distasteful, then perhaps you can discuss this with the mayor. Huth ended the relationship and she had a valid reason for doing so.  

The common theme that I have observed in both cases is that Gerard has used municipal resources to settle scores with people who have crossed him. In the first case it was his former girlfriend who ended their relationship. Testimony in the second case illustrated that Gerards dislike of Bean stemmed from Beans criticism of the mayor in how he treated the director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers. The public allegations that Gerard made in regards to stating that Bean was harassing members of his family, did not bear any fruit.  

I believe that any citizen should have the right to criticize the mayor and not be concerned that he will retaliate by using the power of his office. I have also received private correspondence from another person who shared her experience of being on the receiving end of the mayors wrath when she shared some concerns with him. 

One item that came up in court yesterday was testimony by a friend of Beans who received a facebook message from Gerard telling her that she needed to tell her friend [Bean] to keep his [bleeping] mouth shut. This was some months prior to the incident at the Boneyard. No wonder the judge had some harsh words for Don when she made her decision. 

Prior to all of this, I would say I was aquainted with Don Gerard and casual facebook friends with him and on terms that I would consider to be cordial. I was facebook friends and on reasonably friendly terms with James Bean, who I also knew face to face primarily through mutual friends. I was facebook friends with and on cordial terms with Laura Huth.  

Since then I've discontinued my facebook friendship with Gerard, and he has chosen to block me. That is perfectly fine. I'm perfectly content discussing any concerns I have on municipal matters with my council member, and the at_large members. If I feel a pressing need to communicate with him, I will email him at his city email address. That way any communication will be in writing and will also be a matter of public record.

I do have the option to send Gerard a message through his public facebook page, but will not do so.  Since the court records illustrate that Don has used his gmail account and facebook to engage in his bullying conduct, I choose to not engage with him through those channels. 

James Bean has chosen to take down his facebook page, so my communication with him is primarly through personal email correspondence. I'm still facebook friends with Laura Huth, and have communicated with her primarily through that medium as well. 

Perhaps Gerard will be able to serve the rest of his term without any more incidents, and fulfill some of the promise he showed when he was running. Contrary to what seems to be the general opinion here, I don't wish to see him come to harm. Any damage that his public image has sustained as a result of these situations has come through his own actions. Gerard is ultimately responsible for his own karma.

As for my own participation in this thread, I believe that I have expressed myself clearly, and I'm willing to agree to disagree with my critics. There is a small part of me that is idealistic enough to believe that we can all co-exist, even when we don't see eye to eye. Goodbye.

thelowedown wrote on May 11, 2013 at 12:05 am

"James Bean has chosen to take down his facebook page, so my communication with him is primarly through personal email correspondence."

Maybe you two can start sending each other messages on Reddit as well.

http://www.reddit.com/r/UIUC/comments/1e3nt6/champaign_mayor_caught_creating_and_maintaining/

EL YATIRI wrote on May 12, 2013 at 9:05 am
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Gerard isn't fit for the job.

samlowry5611 wrote on May 10, 2013 at 7:05 am

One Term Tool.

Dann001 wrote on May 10, 2013 at 10:05 am

To bad Bean couldn't get the case heard by "so called" Judge Brian McPheaters.

he could've claimed Gerard threw popcorn at him and gotten the OP as Mcpheaters regularly hands them out like candy!!!! 

Loren Anderson wrote on May 10, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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If I recall correctly, President Obama requested a no-contact order against Mayor Schweighart.

C-U Townie wrote on May 10, 2013 at 4:05 pm

This starts to have the stench of faux celebs who are only famous for their ridiculous behavior. That said, enough already. I think Marti is being a bit overzealous in her agenda to smear the mayor. If it's public record than you're simply regurgitating information... and who wants to sift through vomit to "get to the truth"?

If City officials have not begun the process to have him removed screaming about it on Facebook (almost everyday) and with every article the N-G publishes isn't going to change that. The bottom line is that unless the average citizen is slighted by him they aren't going to care much about what he does other than use it for water cooler gossip.

It becomes the status quo for politicians to behave badly. We allow it on the federal level, so seeing on the city level is a paper cut... not a huge gaping wound. Do I support keeping the status quo? In this case no. But attend a city council meeting. Take it up with the council. Write to the city manager. Don't inundate the citizens with your diatribes. That only makes you look uncouth and it makes your argument lose momentum and credibility.

I will have to agree with a previous poster. When you have your own biases it also makes it hard to take your argument at face value, Marti.

In regard to Gerard there have been lots of rumors that have swirled around him. He's made himself easily accessible to the rumor mill. That's his mistake. His bad temper doesn't help. The upside is he has little power in this community. He, after all, is NOT the city manager. He's a figurehead. Not a very attractive one due to his recent behavior, but he isn't wielding enough power that our community will be marred by his less than stellar behavior.

So let's focus on other issues we have. REAL issues. Like why people are falling from our ridiculously tall buildings on campus.

 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 10, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Oh my.. just wait until Conceal and Carry comes to C-U.  Betcha the mayor gets approved for it since he is the liquor commissioner also.  

NRA Fact Finder wrote on May 11, 2013 at 12:05 pm

The Mayor, according to law, is a conservator of the peace and meeting certain requirements (basically a training course), he is entitled to the privileges associated with police officers... such as carry a concealed weapon.  Many mayors and aldermen already do this.  The relevant law:

 

    (65 ILCS 5/3.1-15-25) (from Ch. 24, par. 3.1-15-25) 
    Sec. 3.1-15-25. Conservators of the peace; service of warrants. 
    (a) After receiving a certificate attesting to the successful completion of a training course administered by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board, the mayor, aldermen, president, trustees, marshal, deputy marshals, and policemen in municipalities shall be conservators of the peace. Those persons and others authorized by ordinance shall have power (i) to arrest or cause to be arrested, with or without process, all persons who break the peace or are found violating any municipal ordinance or any criminal law of the State, (ii) to commit arrested persons for examination, (iii) if necessary, to detain arrested persons in custody over night or Sunday in any safe place or until they can be brought before the proper court, and (iv) to exercise all other powers as conservators of the peace prescribed by the corporate authorities. 
 

Sid Saltfork wrote on May 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

So if a judge feels that a mayor "probably has anger control issues", the mayor still passes free on conceal and carrry?  That does not give me much confidence in any conceal and carry criteria that will become law.  I would imagine that many people with "anger control issues" will be granted the right to carry a hidden gun in public.

It would seem based on your research that the mayor could arrest with, or without process; commit the individual for examination; and detain the individual in custody over night until they can be brought before the proper court.  That makes it more creepy.  Does he have a basement?  Thank goodness, he is not a stalker.

NRA Fact Finder wrote on May 11, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Actually, for us normal citizens getting even an emergency order of protection means you lose your FOID card. In this case, my read is the rules that apply to us don't apply to them. I believe the BGA found some Chicago Aldermen who were carrying and never bothered with training. 

I don't know if the mayor completed this training or not or whether he carries. Just pointing our he could if he wanted to jump through a couple of small hoops. 

ames wrote on May 13, 2013 at 9:05 am

I'll be so happy when this dude's 15 minutes is over!!  It's such an embarrassment to our community watching his trainwreck of a personal life play out in the news every other month.

auntsonyas wrote on May 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm

Thanks for giving us the whole story. It's too bad this town doesn't have a newspaper that will do that. I wonder why, in fact, they haven't taken this discussion down yet? Readers' posts are disappearing from articles every day now, whose payroll is the News Gazette on anyway? And yeah, Gerard is obviously a real flake.