St. Charles youth prison guard guilty of official misconduct over inmate-on-inmate attacks

  • Michael Klimek

    Michael Klimek

 
 
Updated 4/29/2022 4:55 PM

A guard at a state youth prison in St. Charles is guilty of official misconduct for not reporting inmates' attacks on other inmates or threats to their safety.

A Kane County jury on Wednesday convicted Michael Klimek, 46, of Yorkville on six felony counts of official misconduct-failure to perform duties. It also convicted him of aggravated battery in a public place for allowing an attack.

 

Klimek and three other guards were charged in 2016. A judge acquitted the other three in 2021.

Authorities accused them of having a group of inmates, called "the cleaning crew," beat and rob inmates. The guards also were accused of attacking the inmates.

Klimek testified Wednesday. He described the incidents at the Illinois Youth Center in St. Charles as friendly roughhousing and horseplay among fellow gang members.

Both are forbidden and are supposed to be reported. But Klimek said he didn't believe it merited that. The activity stopped when he commanded the inmates to stop, he said.

He said it was policy to try to defuse situations verbally. He also said he was trained to not immediately step in to break up fights because they could be ruses to draw guards in for an attack. He said that happened to him at the now-closed youth prison in Joliet.

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The inmates were not supposed to be in each other's cells. A video played at the trial showed Klimek unlocking a cell and letting several other inmates run in. Klimek stood in the doorway, looking in, while the victim was hit.

One of the misconduct convictions was for violating a policy that specified only one inmate at a time could be in the shower room. A victim testified Klimek unlocked the room and allowed several others in, who hit him. That inmate told a therapist about the attack, and she started the investigation.

Klimek's attorney, Eric Pittman, told jurors they had gotten a glimpse into the "sausage-making" of the state's juvenile justice system.

"This is a gang culture that is violent by nature," he said. "He (Klimek) is trying to manage an unmanageable situation. ... He was successful. Nobody got hurt."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Prosecutors alleged that Klimek controlled the fighters.

"Every time a beating was administered, who supervised it? He (Klimek) started it, and he stopped it," Assistant State's Attorney Bill Engerman told the jury.

Klimek was acquitted on 69 other charges of official misconduct, unlawful restraint, theft and mob action.

Klimek remains free on bail. He will be sentenced on Aug. 8.

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