CHICAGO (STMW) — When Tio Hardiman filled out his job application at the University of Illinois at Chicago 13 years ago, he had to answer a simple yes-or-no question by checking a box.

That question: “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?”

Hardiman’s answer in December 1999: “No.”

But court records show Hardiman pleaded guilty less than three months earlier to a misdemeanor count of battery for beating his now ex-wife. Hardiman says he received court supervision in that incident, which, if successfully completed, is not technically a conviction in Illinois.

That was before he would go on to lead CeaseFire Illinois and earn the UIC-affiliated program national recognition.

Prosecutors first disclosed Hardiman’s September 1999 charge after his arrest this May for allegedly beating his current wife. He’s denied any guilt in the new case, and she has filed for divorce.

CeaseFire’s parent group, Cure Violence, went ahead and dumped Hardiman days later from his post as CeaseFire’s director, though. He’d held that job since 2008 after rising through the program’s ranks.

Hardiman’s UIC personnel file, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, shows he authorized the university to perform a criminal background check Dec. 7, 1999 — the same day he filled out a job application and denied having convictions in his past.

UIC spokesman Bill Burton refused to say whether that background check was performed. He said he couldn’t, because the answer isn’t in Hardiman’s file.

“There’s no document in the personnel file that indicates whether that background check was or was not undertaken,” Burton said. “Nor was one required.”

A Cure Violence representative has said the group learned of the 1999 charge through news reports, and he said Hardiman should have volunteered the information.

Hardiman, meanwhile, declined to comment to the Sun-Times about the answers he gave UIC in 1999. He’s previously said it wasn’t necessary for him to disclose a conviction on the form because he wasn’t convicted of a felony and received court supervision.

The job application doesn’t distinguish between misdemeanors and felonies, though.

Hardiman’s ex-wife accused him in a September 1999 court filing of beating her repeatedly. He pleaded guilty to domestic battery on Sept. 24, 1999, records show, though he’s previously maintained he pleaded guilty to “simple battery.”

He joined CeaseFire later that year. He became its director in 2008 and is credited with conceiving its “violence interrupters” program featured in a New York Times Magazine article.

That 2008 piece spawned an acclaimed 2011 documentary, “The Interrupters,” about ex-convicts who work to prevent gang violence on Chicago’s streets.

Hardiman’s tenure at CeaseFire ended when prosecutors accused him of punching and kicking his 47-year-old wife last month, leaving her with bruises, a cut to her neck and a swollen lip. A judge entered an order June 4 prohibiting Hardiman from contacting her, and he is due back in court July 2.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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