A Joliet man allegedly whipped at the hands of a belt-wielding Will County Board member's son has filed a lawsuit claiming he was the victim of a hate crime.
The suit names Alex Wilhelmi, the 21-year-old son of board member Steve Wilhelmi, D-Joliet, along with two of Alex Wilhelmi's friends—Manuel Borrego, 24, and Daniel Duffy, 23.
Joliet resident Trey Travis, 20, filed the lawsuit this week at the Will County Courthouse. According to the suit, Travis was riding in a Saturn Vue with two other men on July 1 when Borrego turned his Pontiac Grand Prix into the path of their vehicle. Duffy and Wilhelmi were riding with Borrego, the suit said.
Words were exchanged and Travis got out of the Saturn, the suit said. Alex Wilhelmi, Borrego and Duffy then attacked him, the suit said.
During the altercation, Alex Wilhelmi, Borrego and Duffy told Travis "they were going to 'beat (his) black ass,'" the lawsuit said.
The Joliet police reportedly arrived in the midst of the attack and took Alex Wilhelmi, Borrego and Duffy into custody. Borrego was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, mob action, criminal damage to property, battery and reckless driving. Duffy and Wilhelmi were charged with mob action and battery, and Duffy caught a case for criminal damage to property.
According to the police account of the incident, one man from the Saturn was left behind when the other two drove off. Alex Wilhelmi pulled off his belt and whipped this man's back while the Borrego and Duffy punched and kicked him, police said.
A special prosecutor was called in to try the case due to Steve Wilhelmi's position with the county board. In November, the special prosecutor, Dave Neal, droppped the charges against Alex Wilhelmi. Borrego and Duffy got court supervision after pleading guilty.
The attorney representing Travis, John Schrock, said filing a civil suit was his client's only recourse after the criminal case was dismissed.
"We're disappointed that they didn't file charges," Schrock said. "If you look at the police report, it's clear what happened. Because they didn't file charges, we did the only thing we could, and that was file a suit."