The McLean County State's Attorney's office has filed a charge of Disorderly Conduct against former Illinois State University President Tim Flanagan. The case stems from an early December incident involving Flanagan and the then head of grounds over a lawn aeration job at the official university residence on Gregory Street. State's Attorney Jason Chambers says the Class C Misdemeanor is defined as a knowing act in such an unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another or to provoke a breach of the peace.
"Well, I mean It was pretty clear from looking at the reports there were multiple people who were there. Even some of the people who the yelling was not directed at indicated that they were pretty shook up. A lot of them indicated that they thought it was about to become violent, that it was that intense."
Flanagan allegedly yelled insults at Patrick Murphy even while inches away from Murphy's face. Murphy also alleges Flanagan's saliva landed on Murphy during the incident and that Flanagan's arm touched Murphy's chest. Chambers says he is not initially filing an assault charge because his review of the case tends to indicate the alleged contact between Flanagan and Murphy was incidental.
"There were allegations that there was some sort of physical contact between them. But, the reports seemed to indicate that that was more of an incidental, maybe he was waving his arms around, but that if there was any contact it was not for the purpose of striking him."
Chambers says the grounds crew members who witnessed the heated discussion had been asked to clean up the aerated plugs of soil, but Chambers is reticent about the way the confrontation began.
"The entire incident was not funny. It was upsetting to these folks. But then also when you hear about the things that lead to sometimes lead to people getting upset or mad, that's where it was wow! Really? It occurred apparently there had been some aeration done the day before and the grounds crew was there cleaning it up."
The charge carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, but most such cases in which there is a guilty verdict result in a fine and court supervision. The case is set for an initial appearance April 23rd. Flanagan has previously denied any wrongdoing. His attorney, Stephanie Wong, says her earlier review of the matter leaves her confident Flanagan did nothing wrong. Wong declined further comment.
State's Attorney Chambers had originally intended to forward the case to a special prosecutor since Chambers' wife works at the University. When Flanagan resigned last weekend, Chambers says that removed any conflict of interest and his office retained the decision over the case.
Flanagan resigned his Presidency last weekend amid doubts about his leadership. The police report filed by Murphy well after the incident was one factor leading to the change. Trustees appointed Student Affairs Vice President Larry Dietz to head ISU as the next President. Murphy lost his job abruptly shortly after the incident.
Support Your Public Radio Station