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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Illinois Jury Finds ex-Little City Worker David Sutton Guilty of Striking Disabled Teens with Autism

A jury found a former Little City employee guilty Friday of striking two teens who have autism, rejecting his argument that it was self-defense.
Daily Herald article by Christopher Placek | June 30, 2017                                                                
David Sutton
It took the jury of six men and six women 1½ hours to render the verdict, convicting 54-year-old David Sutton on two counts of aggravated battery. Sutton, of Round Lake, could face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Sutton, who took the stand, and his attorneys claimed during the three-day trial that he acted in self-defense when he struck the teens, at the time ages 14 and 16, on Sept. 27, 2015. But prosecutors argued Sutton, a former life skills instructor at the Palatine residential center for children with developmental disabilities, knowingly caused both teens bodily harm and physical pain.

In the case of the 16-year-old, Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Karen Crothers said, Sutton provoked the Little City resident by poking him twice on the back while seated on a couch. Sutton testified Thursday he "tapped" the teen to try to calm him down.

"You can't instigate violence, then claim self-defense," Crothers said during closing arguments Friday morning. "This is a case about a bully."

Defense attorney Alan Lenczycki argued prosecutors' case was "overwrought and overcharged," saying his client was being "scapegoated" for bad placement and treatment of the 16-year-old by Little City.

Prosecutors replayed for the jury video surveillance of Sutton's altercations with the two teens. In one clip, the 16-year-old grabbed hold of a female employee's hair, after which Sutton breaks the grasp, then pushes the teen against one wall, then another, and holds him in what Sutton called a "wall restraint."

Later, the teen comes after Sutton, who pushes and punches him in response. Sutton and the teen later scuffle and end up on the ground, where Sutton puts the teen in a "floor restraint," he testified.

Assistant State's Attorney Susanne Groebner said Sutton went "above and beyond" what he was trained to do.

Lenczycki said the response of the 16-year-old was one of many documented instances of physical aggression toward the staff. Lenczycki also told jurors there was reasonable doubt that the teen's black eye was from the altercation with Sutton.

"He fights with people all the time," Lenczycki said.

Another video clip shows Sutton grabbing the 14-year-old's head and pushing it down on a couch -- an act Sutton said was "just playing around."

Sutton was placed on administrative leave and fired a week later. He is now in custody and is due back in court July 19 for post-trial motions.                                                                                    

RELATED Daily Herald article: 2 Ex-Little City Workers Hit Boy, 11, With Bucket: Sheriff's Office

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