Kane investigator quit, may have shredded docs, complicating 2 child sex abuse cases
An investigator’s resignation from the Kane County Child Advocacy Center is complicating legal proceedings involving his work, including at least one case scheduled for trial this month.
In at least two cases, court filings indicate the investigator may have shredded documents related to his investigation. In one of the cases, involving a former priest from Aurora charged with sexually abusing girls at their church, prosecutors were going to call him as a witness but now say they aren’t planning to, according to court filings.
The other case potentially affected by destroyed documents involved a Batavia man, Joel Becerril, who was convicted in an August bench trial of sexually assaulting a young child he knew.
In an October hearing in the case of former priest Alfredo Pedraza Arias, Kane County Circuit Judge Linda Abrahamson said the trial may be affected by whether lawyers have access to the man who investigated the case.
It is unclear exactly how many cases may be affected by the investigator’s departure. The Kane County state’s attorney’s office has stated it doesn’t comment on personnel matters.
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed a motion set to be heard Friday, asking the judge to quash Arias’ lawyers subpoena for the investigator. To their understanding, the subpoena is for information from the investigator “concerning shredded documents that are at issue,” according to the motion, submitted by Assistant State’s Attorney Reagan Pittman.
“Witnesses cannot be coerced to come to court with a subpoena for discovery purposes,” prosecutors wrote.
In another filing, the defense is asking a judge to order prosecutors and witnesses to disclose more evidence, including any the investigator may not have previously disclosed, and correspondence referencing any information that has been destroyed, along with the date of destruction.
They’re also asking for copies of any documents prosecutors have that explain or describe what led to the investigator’s resignation.
In a Sept. 18 letter to Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon, the investigator wrote one sentence stating his resignation was effective that day.
McMahon accepted the resignation effective immediately in a letter telling the investigator to return various county property and that the office would pack his personal belongings and have them delivered to him.
“This letter confirms our discussion today that I have accepted your resignation,” McMahon wrote.
Before the Kane County state’s attorney hired him in 2002, the investigator had been a Chicago police officer since December 2000, according to records in his personnel file.
In similar motions, a lawyer for both Arias and Becerril asked for copies of any documents or other records referencing the internal investigation of the investigator, along with any social media communication referencing the prosecution of the case or investigation of the man. The lawyer is asking the judge to direct the state’s attorney’s office to explain the assertion that there may have been notes related to the Arias investigation or prosecution that were destroyed, and when that destruction would have occurred.
The motions also ask the state to say whether any entries were made in the investigator’s computers in addition to notes previously disclosed, and to describe any efforts made to forensically obtain any deleted information on the devices.
Attorney David Camic also asked for the judge to make prosecutors disclose whether they’d reviewed a cellphone the investigator used and, if they had, to share what they’d found; to identify any forensic tools used on his devices; and to give him access to any devices that hadn’t already been investigated forensically.
Camic also asked the judge to order the state’s attorney to say whether the investigator will be prosecuted for any criminal offense arising out of his actions and whether they know of any other agency investigating the man’s actions, and to disclose any agreement between the state’s attorney’s office and the investigator related to his employment or the termination of his employment.
Filings also seek to find out how the state’s attorney’s office “became aware of the need to recover shredded documents,” whether the investigator destroyed any other paper or electronic documents or entries, and the timeline of the prosecution’s discoveries.