A Cook County judge acquitted former Chicago public school principal Kurt Jones of three felony counts stemming from a March 2020 incident in which he threw a water bottle that had hit a school cafeteria worker in the head.
The former director of the Old Town Franklin Fine Arts Center resigned in June last year after the CPS presented his findings to him in an administrative inquiry that examined several allegations of misconduct, including the bottle throwing that led to his arrest the following week.
In a court trial that culminated with Judge Angela Petrone’s verdict on Thursday, she found Jones not guilty of two counts of aggravated assault and battery causing bodily harm and permanent disfigurement. The judge also acquitted Jones of count three, a specific law for bodily harm inflicted on a school employee, ruling that he had injured a school worker but had not done so “knowingly”.
âA small laceration, treated with skin glue, is a far cry from the type of injury that the law requires to find serious bodily harm or permanent disfigurement,â Petrone wrote in his order. âFortunately for Mrs. [Faye] Jenkins, there are now no visible marks on his forehead. This tribunal stood up, moved towards her, and looked closely at where she was pointing her face and saw no marks. “
Petrone found all credible defense witnesses and all prosecution witnesses not credible, including the cafeteria worker who was injured, the Chicago Police Detective who investigated the case, and two other school employees.
The judge said she felt “a motive was shown for Ms Jenkins to fabricate or embellish her testimony” because the cafeteria manager contacted a lawyer after the incident and took legal action against CPS , and because a recent CPS administrative investigation of Jenkins found her guilty of unrelated conduct. Jenkins has yet to be sanctioned in the case pending the conclusion of Jones’ criminal trial and other legal proceedings.
In his ruling, Petrone also cited a Facebook post from Jenkins that mentioned making money in 2021 and a previous conviction in an unrelated case.
Jenkins’ testimony was not credible in part, the judge concluded, as she did not recall calling 911 three days after the incident in which she said, according to the testimony of a dispatcher in emergency, that Jones had hit her with a water bottle. by accident.”
Petrone also did not find Jenkins believable because her story did not match that of a medical assistant who testified in Jones ‘defense that Jenkins’ facial cut required skin glue closure, no stitches. , and that she was allowed to return. to work immediately.
However, prosecutors did not seize any medical records as evidence at trial, including documentation Jenkins provided to the Chicago Sun-Times of a March 20, 2020 clinical report signed by the medical assistant who testified at the trial. The document showed Jenkins had “possible early concussion symptoms with associated dizziness and blurred vision,” and said Jenkins would have to return for a follow-up appointment. Another medical report from a March 25 visit showed that another medical assistant diagnosed him with a concussion.
Jones “very, very grateful to Judge Petrone”
Jones’ attorney James McKay said in an interview that the former manager was “delighted” with the verdict and “very, very grateful to Judge Petrone.”
âThe judge’s written order is very strong in his language. She didn’t find Faye Jenkins credible at all, âMcKay said, calling each of the state’s witnessesâ dishonest â.
McKay said he believed the CPD detective had done a “half-ass” and “terrible” job in the case, an opinion proven by the “rare” case of a judge finding a detective not credible, said he added.
âKurt Jones should never have been charged. And this detective should never have had him arrested, âMcKay said. âHe had to go through this process for over a year and a half until he was completely exonerated. And the power of being has just ruined his life all this time.
“Kurt Jones should never have been in criminal court, period.”
A spokeswoman for the state attorney’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Neither have the representatives of the Chicago Police Department.
On Twitter, Jones celebrated the verdict and wrote “CPS, CPD, Kim Foxx – we’re not done!” He also wrote a message to former CPS CEO Janice Jackson on Twitter saying, âLet’s get back to honesty, integrity, and maybe my son, a CPS student, can see the truth, honesty and integrity in this program.
CPS officials declined to comment, citing an ongoing dispute.
Jones has a pending civil lawsuit against CPS accusing the district of breaching his contract, violating his due process rights and wrongly firing him.
Jenkins also sued the school system, accusing the district of failing to protect her from the former principal despite a series of past complaints.
Joined on Friday afternoon, Jenkins said the state attorney’s office had not yet informed her of the judge’s verdict. She was surprised to learn that Jones was acquitted.
âI hurt myself, and it’s okay,â she said. “He should at least be responsible for throwing that bottle away.”