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updated: 3/22/2011 10:47 PM

Cuba Township highway commissioner charged with battering worker

Cuba Township official denies argument became physical

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Lake County sheriff's police arrested Cuba Township Highway Commissioner Thomas W. Gooch on a misdemeanor battery charge March 11 after a township office worker claimed he yanked her hair.

Gooch, 62, of the 23000 block of Old Barrington Road in Lake Barrington, disputed the 49-year-old woman's allegations, saying he had only an argument with her about her son -- who also worked for him -- failing to come to work that day.

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"I expect to be found not guilty of the offense," said Gooch, also a Wauconda-based attorney and a former Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District trustee. "Nobody could be more shocked than I at these allegations."

According to a Lake County sheriff's report, a deputy was called to the Cuba Township offices near Lake Barrington at 3:47 p.m. March 11.

The woman told the deputy Gooch had pulled her hair and yanked out her earring after a day of arguing. The woman said she and Gooch were friends, but not romantically involved.

Much of the day's arguments, the woman reported, stemmed from Gooch being upset she wasn't wearing the "friendship ring" he had given her several months before.

According to her statement, Gooch was standing by the door as she was leaving for the day about 3:30 p.m. when pulled her hair as she approached, causing the large hoop earring in her left ear to come out.

She alleges Gooch then swore at her and said something like "the world does not revolve around you and don't let the door slam behind you."

The woman said she then went to her car. While she was inside, she said, Gooch pushed his face against the window and began yelling at her. She then called police as Gooch returned to the building, she said.

Gooch describes the events very differently.

"I tugged on her hair in a playful way and said, 'Monday will be a better day,'" he said.

He denies that her earring was ripped out, adding that there was no sign of injury and that he never followed her out.

"That didn't happen at all," Gooch said. "She sat in the car with the windows rolled up. I didn't know what she was doing. I saw her from the kitchen window talking on her cell phone."

The deputy reported that the woman at first wanted only to document the altercation, not charge Gooch. But after returning from interviewing Gooch, the officer said the woman had changed her mind, stating that Gooch was a "bully" who needed to "learn a lesson." She added that if the officer didn't arrest Gooch and take him to jail, he "must be friends with him."

Gooch said he fired the woman after learning she intended to file charges.

"The saddest part about it was she was good at her job," he said.

Cuba Township Supervisor David Nelson said no other township official has any authority over Gooch, his office or his employees.

"He runs his highway department independently of the township," Nelson said.

Gooch is scheduled to appear in court on the charge Friday.

The charge is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a maximum year in jail and $2,500 fine.

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