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Dart goes to court in effort to find person accusing him of domestic violence

Friday, February 16, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times
by Sam Charles


Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart filed a petition in circuit court this week in an effort to learn the identity of the person who has stoked rumors of alleged domestic incidents at his home last year.

In a petition filed Wednesday, Dart’s attorney asked a Cook County judge to order Yahoo! to produce the IP address of someone who wrote two emails — sent to various Chicago news outlets — that said Dart “physically attacked his wife at their Mount Greenwood home, leaving visible injuries to her face and person.”

A second email alleged another incident of domestic violence occurred in the same home a few weeks later.

Dart filed the petition as a private citizen and not in his capacity as sheriff. Petitions for discovery such as Dart’s are often a precursor to a defamation lawsuit. The person who operates the email address — who goes by “Dan” — did not respond to request for comment.

Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Dart in the lawsuit, condemned the emails.

“Tom has been subjected to sustained attacks on his integrity and even threats to his life, during his tenure as sheriff,” Culloton said in a statement. “Over the past several months, these attacks have escalated to include false and vicious rumors involving his wife and family, perpetuated by cowards who hide behind fake email addresses and anonymous blogs. Through this filing we hope to hold those people accountable.”

In October, a complaint was filed that alleged officers had failed to take a report from an incident at Dart’s home that “involved his wife and his girlfriend,” according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

The Chicago Sun-Times obtained a recording of a 911 call purportedly linked to an incident at Dart’s home. In the recording, a Morgan Park district police officer asks a dispatcher for an “event number” for a prior police response to Dart’s home days earlier, but the dispatcher tells the office that none exists.

Last month, another person — not one named in the petition — emailed a host of Chicago journalists and attorneys a link to a Chicago Defender piece that addressed to the rumors around Dart.

“But, rumors persist of an alleged domestic dispute at the Dart household last October?” read the Defender column, which was still posted on its website as of Friday afternoon. “I wonder who came out with the ‘black-eye?’”

Cara Smith, Dart’s chief policy adviser, was also emailed the piece. Smith took exception and responded directly. All other initial email recipients were copied on Smith’s response.

She wrote: “For months, baseless and hateful rumors have persistently circulated. There is not a shred of evidence or truth to these rumors.

“Many responsible media outlets have responded to these rumors and filed FOIA requests with our office as well as with the Chicago Police Department. There is no documentation, there is no evidence, because the allegations are wholly untrue.

“Early this morning, after reading the Defender piece, published without seeking prior comment from our office, I spoke to author and advised her that there was no truth to allegations she published.

“My repeated requests to her and her publisher to retract and remove the falsehoods from their online publication were not responded to.

“As to the Defender, we are pursuing all legal remedies related to their reckless disregard for the truth and to the harm caused to the Sheriff and his family by publishing these false and defamatory statements. We are also pursuing all available remedies against the individuals who created these baseless rumors and those who continue to perpetuate them.”

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