Attorney: Former CeaseFire Director’s Wife Was ‘Beaten Like An Animal’
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CHICAGO (CBS) – An attorney for the wife of former CeaseFire director Tio Hardiman said she was “beaten like an animal” during a fight that prompted Hardiman’s arrest, but Hardiman denied ever laying a hand on his wife.
Hardiman was arrested Friday at his home in west suburban Hillside, charged with misdemeanor domestic battery for allegedly punching and kicking his wife.
On Tuesday, a Cook County judge issued a restraining order prohibiting Hardiman from contacting his wife in any way, or going near her home or work. He has been allowed to stay at a second home his wife recently purchased in Maywood.
“She is in fear,” her attorney Ferdinand Serpe said following a hearing at the Maywood courthouse.
Hardiman’s wife left court without speaking to reporters.
Serpe said Hardiman’s wife suffered two strokes and a heart attack in the past two years; most recently suffering a stroke a month ago. Serpe said she has been suffering numbness on her right side.
“When she was being pummeled, he was well-aware of that,” Serpe said. “Her words were she was beaten like an animal.”
But Hardiman denied ever hitting his wife, and blamed Serpe and his wife’s former sister-in-law for pushing her to press charges following an incident at their home Thursday night.
“A lot of people are benefiting off my high-profile status. I think that my wife’s lawyer is a sinister individual, because he’s trying to pump hatred in my wife, and my wife knows that I love her,” he said.
“I did not touch my wife,” Hardiman added. “I’m innocent. We’re going to fight this all the way, and hopefully the truth will come out. When the truth does come out, people will come back, and I hope I get the same media attention once I’m proven innocent, so that I can get my career back together.”
He said he does not know how she got the bruises she suffered.
“I’ve been with my wife 13 years, and I didn’t just wake up one day overnight and say ‘let me beat up my wife,’ okay?” he said. “We’ve traveled the world together. I’m not a violent guy. I love my wife.”
Hardiman acknowledged there was an incident at his home involving his wife last Thursday night, but he declined to discuss any details. Serpe would only say the incident revolved around “family matters.”
Serpe said there have been no other incidents of domestic abuse during the Hardimans’ 7-year marriage. However, Hardiman was convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery in 1999. Serpe said that case involved Hardiman’s previous marriage, but Hardiman claimed he was convicted of simple battery, not domestic battery.
Hardiman was placed on administrative leave as director of CeaseFire Illinois after his arrest, and the group’s parent organization said his contract will not be renewed after June 30. He had been with CeaseFire since it started, and created the renowned “violence interrupters” program, which mediates conflicts between rival gangs to prevent shootings and other violence.
“I have to bounce back from this. I feel shipwrecked and abandoned by CeaseFire, because they had already tried to basically erase my history from down there anyway before this incident, based on the fact that I became too popular in the media,” Hardiman said of his ouster from CeaseFire.
He also said he wants to reconcile with his wife.
“I have no ill intent as it relates to my wife,” he said.
Hardiman was due back in court on July 2.