JOLIET, Ill. (CBS) — A Will County woman who was convicted of abusing a child at her home daycare is challenging the conviction based on a Facebook connection.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, Kelly Klein’s court filings argue that Will County Judge Daniel Rozak should have recused himself, and should never have been the judge who heard her case and found her guilty, because of his connection with the victim.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports
The court filing includes printouts from Facebook that Klein’s attorney says show that members of the victim’s family, the Bashams, are friends with members of the judge’s family.
Klein’s attorney, Steven Becker, says the connections also go deeper than mere Facebook friendships.
“It is now apparent that the Facebook friendships between the Rozaks and the Bashams are only the tip of the iceberg,” Becker wrote.
But Rozak says his children are grown and do not live at his home, and he has no control over whom they friend on Facebook, the newspaper reported.
But Becker, who came on as Klein’s defense attorney after she was convicted, claimed Rozak has a “close, personal friendship” with the victim’s grandfather, trial witness Gary Basham.
Rozak said he doesn’t know Basham nor the “numerous Basham family members” who testified at Klein’s trial.
“If I have ever met or talked to Gary Basham, I have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever,” Rozak wrote, “and, even after he has testified in my courtroom, I’m not so sure that I would recognize him if I saw him again.”
Becker wrote he has learned one of Rozak’s daughters works with an aunt of Klein’s alleged victim. And he said Rozak’s children all went to school and graduated around the same time as the Basham children at Reed-Custer High School, where graduating classes range from 100 to 120 students.
Finally, Becker points out that the day after Rozak filed his affidavit, Rozak’s children began blocking access to their Facebook pages and removing the victim’s family from their “friends” lists.
Police sought aggravated battery of a child charges against Klein in March 2008, seven months after prosecutors said a 7-month-old boy left her daycare needing hospital care.
Kimberly Basham, the boy’s mother, eventually filed a personal injury lawsuit against Klein and said her child had no sign of physical injury and couldn’t yet crawl in August 2007 when he arrived at the daycare Klein ran out of her home.
By day’s end, Basham claims, her son had a bruise on his head and scratches on his abdomen. Prosecutors said doctors found bleeding in his brain.
Klein pleaded not guilty and asked for a bench trial, leaving it to Rozak to rule on her innocence. He found her guilty in June.
The Joliet Herald-News contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.