State's attorney questions officer's credibility
Peoria County State’s Attorney Kevin Lyons vows not to prosecute any arrests involving a part-time police officer in Glasford.
Christopher Beachler, a former Bradley University police officer who was acquitted of rape charges more than three years ago and subsequently hired by Glasford in April 2006, stained his credibility as a police officer when he lied to investigators in 2003, and now jeopardizes any criminal arrests or prosecutions with his involvement, Lyons said.
"… any criminal matter in which the village, or other law enforcement agency, seeks prosecution that requires or suggests the use of Christopher Beachler in the course of that prosecution, will not be prosecuted by the office of the Peoria County State’s Attorney," Lyons said, reading from a one-page letter dated July 5 addressed to Glasford Mayor Jack Rudd Jr. and Police Chief Mark Harper. "… (Beachler) may serve to undo the criminal arrests and ultimate prosecutions of offenders in cases in which Christopher Beachler is a part."
Despite learning of Beachler’s employment only three months ago, Lyons said his objections to Glasford officials since then so far have gone ignored.
Rudd, the longtime mayor of the town of about 1,000 residents, on Monday said only "I can’t comment on that yet," adding, "I haven’t had a chance to investigate it yet."
Rudd acknowledged Beachler was employed by the village, "but I don’t know if he is working," referring that question to Harper, who confirmed Beachler’s active employment as one of eight officers on the part-time force.
As to Lyon’s letter of protest: "We have our attorney looking into it," Harper said.
What Glasford officials think about Beachler or his ability to fulfill the job may hold no weight. They will have to decide if the village is leaving itself and its residents vulnerable by keeping what appears to be an ineffective Beachler on the force.
Beachler, a former Bradley University police officer, was acquitted in December 2003 of charges he sexually assaulted a 24-year-old suburban Chicago woman, a longtime friend, in early 2002. During the trial, Beachler testified the sex was consensual, but also said he lied when he initially told police he did not have sex with the woman, until after he was confronted with DNA results that proved otherwise.
"… as a result of Beachler’s untruthful accounts of events to Peoria police during a criminal investigation … and as a result of Beachler’s self-implicating testimony and admitted false reports and statements to police, serve you notice that no testimony of Christopher Beachler will be accepted as true or credible by the prosecution of this county should it be offered in his capacity as a commissioned police officer …," Lyons said.
In short, the issue of Beachler’s credibility could harm criminal cases brought forward by prosecutors, Lyons said, and, in effect, undo the criminal arrests and ultimate prosecutions of those offenders.
Further, if the village takes no action, Lyons said he would be forced to inform defense in any of Beachler’s cases of the officer’s "past conduct, testimony, and false statements, in adherence with Illinois Supreme Court rules and the Rules of Professional Conduct."
But Beachler’s attorney, Kevin Sullivan, said Lyons’ calls to provide Beachler’s past conduct and testimony are "rather innocuous," adding his client lied at the time out of fear for his job, and has since then re-established his credibility.
Beachler’s case has since been expunged, which means there is no record of the charges, indictment or trial.
After the acquittal, Beachler demanded he be reinstated to active employment at Bradley, but was fired, according to an internal memo from the State’s Attorney’s Office, written by the two assistant state’s attorneys assigned to Beachler’s case, and who were asked in May to recollect the events.
"We recall the Bradley chief indicating at the time that if Beachler was willing to lie to the police, he had no credibility as a police officer," the memo states.
Dave Haney can be reached at (309) 686-3181 or email@example.com.