Elk Grove Park District commissioner not guilty of battery
A Cook County circuit court judge found longtime Elk Grove Park District Commissioner Bill O'Malley not guilty of the charge of misdemeanor battery filed against him last June at a bench trial Monday in Rolling Meadows.
O'Malley said he was pleased Associate Judge Steven M. Wagner found the weight of the evidence went against his parting "tap on the stomach" being in any way an act of aggression against a 25-year-old park district employee.
He said he only wished the cloud of suspicion could have been dissipated sooner, but he said the allegation had not affected his relationships with other park district officials and staff.
"All park district employees have remained professional throughout this," O'Malley said. "I continued my normal responsibilities as a park district commissioner."
While he said he understood why such a charge against an elected official was newsworthy, he wished people who didn't know him would have been slower to judgment.
"I really wish people wouldn't jump to conclusions -- and jump to social media -- without knowing all the facts," he said, adding that he had been kept from responding at the time by the advice of his attorney.
What O'Malley characterized as a playful, parting tap at the Pavilion Fitness Center at about 4:15 p.m. on June 2, the male employee described as a punch in the stomach with a force "equivalent to being hit with a baseball bat" that left him in pain for about 15 minutes, according to the police report he later filed.
O'Malley said that while a surveillance video did not show the contact itself, it did show the employee during and after the incident -- including minutes spent talking to his mother on the phone during which he didn't mention the encounter.
O'Malley also felt the video -- which showed him with items in both hands -- refuted the claim in the police report that he had struck the employee with a closed fist.
The police report said O'Malley told investigators he was attempting to play a prank when he gave the employee a playful jab, but O'Malley said Tuesday he had never described his tap as a prank.