Tate's attorney: Emails tell different story

Tate's attorney: Emails tell different story

URBANA — The attorney for University of Illinois basketball player Jaylon Tate said he received email from Tate’s alleged victim recanting her accusation that he struck her over the weekend.

Tom Bruno of Urbana told The News-Gazette on Tuesday that he received two emails from Hailey Pieruccini, 19, in the wake of Tate’s arrest for domestic battery. The first, sent late Saturday morning,  said Tate had not hit her and was not present when she was struck. A second email sent later Saturday and read by Bruno Sunday morning said she did it to herself. 

Tate, a junior point guard, was criminally charged Monday in Champaign County Circuit Court with a single count of misdemeanor battery alleging that he struck Pieruccini in the face Saturday.

Not long after Tate’s arrest, UI basketball coach John Groce moved quickly to suspend him indefinitely from the basketball team.

Bruno said he has already informed the assistant state’s attorney assigned to Tate’s case of the emails he received and planned to share copies of them later today with that office.

“I don’t think the state’s attorney’s office wants to let Jaylon Tate twist in the wind and I’m asking them to act as quickly as possible to clear his name,” Bruno said.

Since being hired Saturday by Tate’s parents, Bruno said he learned that Tate, 21, and other UI basketball players were hosting a party Friday night and early Saturday at their apartment in the first block of East John Street. Several members of the UI softball team, including Pieruccini, a sophomore from Chicago, were guests.

“We believe that Hailey Pieruccini and at least one other softball teammate of hers arrived at the party and were asked to leave because they were intoxicated. When she left, multiple witnesses will say there was nothing wrong with Hailey,” Bruno said.

“What happened to Hailey is a mystery to us, but she has put in writing that Jaylon had nothing to do with this and we are sharing those writings with the state’s attorney,” Bruno said.

He said she and her friend were told to leave the party at 11:30 p.m. Friday.

Bruno said that sometime after that Tate left his own apartment and went to a campus bar, where he was contacted by a friend telling him that police wanted to speak with him. He returned home, talked to the police and was arrested about 3 a.m. Saturday.

Bruno said his client, who denied to police that he had any contact with Pieruccini, was stunned by the accusation.

“He was shocked, bewildered, confused and upset,” Bruno said. 

Tate was booked into the county jail about 6:15 a.m. Saturday and had to spend about 28 hours there before he could go before a judge who set bond on Sunday. He was released after bond court Sunday then returned to court Monday for a formal reading of the misdemeanor charge with Bruno present. He was told to be back in court April 20.

Bruno is hoping that Champaign police will re-interview Pieruccini and some of her teammates to get to the bottom of what really happened to her.

On Monday, Pieruccini hired Champaign attorney Scott Lerner to represent her.

Lerner told The News-Gazette he wasn’t interested in talking about the details of any alleged crime.

“It’s scary for any young person to be put in the middle of this sort of controversy, especially when you are dealing with the press and all this stuff related to a basketball player. This is one of those cases where everybody should hold tight, catch their breath, and make sure we get to the truth rather than speculating in newspapers,” he said.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said  Tuesday afternoon she received the emails from Bruno and was reviewing them. She noted that it was not Pieruccini who made the initial report to police but one of her softball teammates.

Bruno said he also forwarded the emails to the Champaign Police Department.


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rsp wrote on March 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

It may be important to note that her friends called the police, which was the right thing to do. If this is the truth coming out, she's stepping up. She's also underage to have been drinking. <editted>


mstook423 wrote on March 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm

This is an example of a case where everyone needs to stop passing judgement before all of the facts are known.  I feel for Jaylon Tate if it is indeed true that he was not involved with the injuries to Hailey Pieruccini.  Jaylon has already been tried in the court of public opinion.  Let's not forget about the scam perpetrated on the Duke Lacross players in 2006 by a young person that wrongly accused them of rape.  We must let the legal process play out before we pass judgement.  

Schmohawk wrote on March 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm

where did you read that this girl was drinking at the basketball players' party? That surely isn't what this article indicates.

uncommon_name wrote on March 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm

You have a point. It says she was intoxicated and asked to leave. That didn't actually say she was drinking there.

uncommon_name wrote on March 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm

I'd say Mr. Whitman might want to have a look into the women's softball program. If this turns out to be true, there have been a couple head scratching incidents involving their players and alcohol lately.

wayward wrote on March 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

Yeah, moderation is a great thing.

townsend1306 wrote on March 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

As I said a few days ago, "YOU PEOPLE" want to kill the young man before you know what happen, hopefully this wlll be a learning lesson for all the "Moonpies and DaisyJ's" out there!!!   


Local Yocal wrote on March 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm
Profile Picture

And once again, The News-Gazette is caught running trials before trials. Cases like this are why law enforcement should not be allowed to write the pre-trial publicity for The News-Gazette. This publishing people's "guilt" according to law enforcement and always instantly after arrest, is a violation of every person's right to the presumption of innocence BEFORE a trial. 

Shame again, News-Gazette. Mr. Tate could do everyone a favor and sue The News-Gazette, the sheriff's department, and the University Police for the damages to his reputation. 

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on March 15, 2016 at 7:03 pm

You did read their Yodler that it was CPD not UIPD or CCSO who made the arrest.   Once again your grasp of law enforcement is defined by ADAM 12.   The only person who needs to be sued is the softball player for lying.   Both Groce and Whitman owe this. Bb player apology too.

Dan Bloeme wrote on March 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

"A second email sent Sunday morning said she did it to herself." Just "wow",  that truly says it all. If it is in fact true she made it up then she deserves to suffer the legal consequences.

rsp wrote on March 15, 2016 at 2:03 pm

She wasn't the one who made the report. You don't know that something didn't happen to her by someone else that she was embarassed to disclosed but you are more than willing to attack her yourself?

She came forward trying to do the right thing.

Dan Bloeme wrote on March 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Neither I or anyone knows absolute truth of this right now, except Pieruccini and Tate.

Yes a softball teammate first reported the incident to the police. When Hailey was first asked by police all she said was he hit her once. Then after time to reflect and understand the gravity of the situation she allegedly sent an email to Tate's attorney saying he didn't hit her and allegedly later on a 2nd email saying she did it to herself. That part sounds pretty far fetched. It is common in such cases for a female abuse  victim to recant to protect their boyfriend or husband or just not wanting the public scrutiny involved. I did say if it is proven she made it up then she deserves to suffer any legal consequences. At this point this is truly all just so unbelievable and fishy.

Joe American wrote on March 15, 2016 at 4:03 pm

"Neither I or anyone knows absolute truth of this right now, except Pieruccini and Tate."


Funny.  That's basically what I told you in the other forum when you were busy skewering his attorney for having the audacity to claim that Tate was innocent when she (your assumption) said he was guilty.

Thanks for coming around.

RPeterE wrote on March 15, 2016 at 5:03 pm

It now looks like the lawyer may have done some coaching and the real truth has been getting obliterated, 'covered up' for those of you that can't handle big words.. They are going to make a scapegoat out of this poor girl. 

rsp wrote on March 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

So you're going to accuse a lawyer of committing a crime in public? He can sue you for that.

RPeterE wrote on March 15, 2016 at 1:03 pm

What on earth is with these Illini women softball players? What a disgrace some have shown themselves to be. Need some stronger guidance evidently.

That is a new one on me though, when young females are turned away from a party because they are too intoxicated. Maybe chivalry isn't dead.

Beem wrote on March 15, 2016 at 3:03 pm

Why would she email Bruno? If you want to recant your story, your first step should be to tell the police, not him. This is all seems to be secret deals, lawyers telling the kids what to do and say, etc. So are she and Tate boyfriend/girlfriend or what? If so, would you kick your girlfriend out of a party? More to come on this one I think. Too much drama surrounding the DIA right now.

Dan Bloeme wrote on March 15, 2016 at 4:03 pm

So you are saying you suspect lawyer coaching was going on . . . yes it is all suspect

RPeterE wrote on March 15, 2016 at 4:03 pm

I'm hoping the police really dig and get to the truth in all of this. It all sounds really suspicious. The police need to interview her, her friends, the party goers, also look at her phone calls, texts, emails, security footage, etc and see if they can piece together the truth somehow. Definitely some coaching involved. It looks like someone got to her and told her what to say. I hope they can uncover the real truth, whatever that may be.

jdstieg wrote on March 15, 2016 at 6:03 pm

Paging Moonpie the Magnificient.  Paging Moonpie the Magnificient. What say ye now oh Magnificient One?  Moonpie the Magnificient, who is anti-Illini and anti-NG, should be here soon to give us is tired old sayings,  Some how this will be Loren Tate's fault!  I'm sure his he is some hole now trying to think up how he can spin this.  Why?  Because Moonpie the Magnificient is a piece of dung.  Did I mention he is anti-Illini and anti-NG?

PSL wrote on March 16, 2016 at 1:03 am

Did anybody think to ask the softball player what she thinks of the dancing stereotype the University used to trot out at halftime?

Skepticity wrote on March 16, 2016 at 10:03 am

Jaylon Tate apparently has retained an attorney who is serving his interests well, as should be.  Remember, the accused is entitled to legal counsel and presumed innocent.  Conviction requires that the case be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. 

That being said, it is suspicious that the alleged victim of the alleged crime sent emails to the alleged perpetrator's legal counsel instead of going straight to the State's Attorney to clear up any misconceptions.  Did someone contact the alleged victim and encourage her to recant or were the events initially misunderstood and Jaylon Tate is truly an innocent person falsely accused? We surely do not know. 

Domestic abuse cases are often messy, and (unless it is a case of ongoing dominance and control through domestic violence) there is sometimes a pattern of conflict by both sides that escalates to violence.  On some occasions the purported victim even struck the 1st blow.  In recent years there has been an increase in both parties being arrested in such cases. 

However, in this case we seem to know less and less about what happened, and may never know.  Was JT the aggressor?  Was the victim hit by someone else, or herself?  Who knows...  it appears that alcohol played a role.

We will just have to let this play out in the legal system. 


In the mean time, could comments on a story please address the story, rather than taunting other commentators or bringing the decommissioned mascot to this discussion? Come on, people!  This is a comment section for a newspaper, not a flame war on some social networking forum. 

PortlandIllini wrote on March 16, 2016 at 11:03 am

You want to know how bad things can get?  There are two former Oregon Basketball players who just sued their school for $10million each for being kicked out of school after being accused of rape.

Much like this case, there was conflicting evidence and ever-changing stories.  The DA declined to prosecute but the University then tried them in a Title IX approved procedure on campus.

Be careful,  Illinois. 



Fan from SC wrote on March 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I think we can all agree that none of us know what actually happened. Aside from the minimal information from the police report, the only "information" provided has been from Mr. Tates attorney.  He cites emails as proof? Of course there's no way her account was hacked and fake emails were written! Until it comes out of her mouth I would take those emails with a huge grain of salt!

Problem with the softball team because of one incident? I say one bcause until proven otherwise Hailey is a victim. By the way, In the first incident the girl showed poor judgement while drinking but she was of legal age to drink.

I've seen the comments regarding John Groce and his history of problems with players but let's keep in mind that the softball coaching staff is all brand new. Let's not judge them before they even have their own recruits enrolled!

 When it's your school wth the "problem athletes" it's easy to blame coaches, the AD (also new), the administration, etc but check the headlines outside Champaign- these things happen everywhere and it's not just athletes doing them. Check the crime stats for non athlete students!     

Everyone needs to take a deep breath and let the investigation run its course.