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Local News

Will County judge bars release of photos of alleged hate crime graffiti at Mayor Claar's house

JOLIET – A Will County judge agreed to block the release of photographs in a case where Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar’s home was allegedly vandalized with graffiti of swastikas and anarchist symbols.

County prosecutors argued in an Oct. 18 court motion that the release of the photographs would lead to “heightened public condemnation” of Rachel Tuszynski, 30, who was arrested by Bolingbrook police in connection with the case. They also argued the photos’ release would deny Tuszynski of her right to a fair trial.

Judge Daniel Kennedy granted the motion with no objection from defense attorneys. In his court order, Kennedy said the Bolingbrook police and county prosecutors are prohibited from releasing the photographs to any party outside the case.

The spokesman for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office, Charles B. Pelkie, said the motion to bar the release of the photos was a reassertion of the office’s obligation to not release discovery material in ongoing criminal cases.

“It’s our position in pretty much every case,” Pelkie said.

Claar said he did not ask the prosecutors to file the motion but added that he supported it.

The Herald-News is appealing the denial of photos’ release by Bolingbrook police to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. The attorney general’s office took up a review of the village’s response to The Herald-New’s Freedom of Information Act request for the photographs on Oct. 11.

On Sept. 20, Tuszynski allegedly spray- painted swastika symbols on Claar’s home and wrote a message for him to resign, and also damaged a speed limit sign and sidewalk, damaged a building in the 400 block of North Bolingbrook Road and stole U.S. and Bolingbrook flags.

Tuszynski was arrested shortly after and booked into the Will County jail. Her bond was set at $150,000.

Tuszynski remains in custody. She was charged with a hate crime for damaging property “by reason of the actual or perceived creed of” Claar, according to the criminal complaint.

When asked about the hate crime charge and Claar’s “creed,” Pelkie has said the charge will “have to speak for itself,” and that it is not the office’s practice to elaborate beyond the charge.

The Herald-News filed a FOIA request with the Bolingbrook police on Sept. 25. Partially redacted police reports on Tuszynki’s arrest were released but the photos were withheld.

The police department’s’s FOIA officer has said an assistant state’s attorney asked for the photos to be kept under wraps.

In an email, the officer said “the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office has determined that due to the inflammatory nature of photographs, the disclosure of the photographs would inhibit their ability to prosecute the case, and would jeopardize the accused’s right to a fair trial.”

Pelkie has said Bolingbrook police made the decision to withhold the photos. The state’s attorney’s office provided consultation, Pelkie said, who declined to go into specifics at the time.

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