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Tio Hardiman out as CeaseFire chief after domestic battery charge

Tio Hardiman  | Sun-Times photo

Tio Hardiman | Sun-Times photo

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Updated: June 4, 2013 2:38AM

Anti-violence group CeaseFire is dropping leader Tio Hardiman after his arrest last Friday on a domestic battery charge.

Cure Violence, the parent organization of CeaseFire which is affiliated with the University of Illinois at Chicago, announced on its website Monday that it will not renew Hardiman’s contract when it expires June 30.

He had been placed on administrative leave after he was arrested Friday at his home in west suburban Hillside. He is accused of punching and kicking his 47-year-old wife, leaving her with bruises, a cut to her neck and a swollen lip Friday morning, prosecutors said. Authorities said Hardiman was convicted of misdemeanor domestic battery in 1999.

Reached Monday evening, Hardiman called his ouster “a miscalculated decision.”

“I brought it back to life,” Hardiman said of CeaseFire. “So I thought that Dr. Slutkin in particular would have had enough respect for my longevity with the organization and my leadership.”

Gary Slutkin, the founder of CeaseFire and the director of Cure Violence, could not be reached for comment Monday night.

He previously released a statement affirming the organization’s zero-tolerance policy regarding employees charged with domestic violence or violence against women or children.

Hardiman began at CeaseFire in 1999 and has served as its director since 2008. He says he plans to open his own chapter of CeaseFire in light of his dismissal.

He created the group’s violence interrupter initiative, using ex-offenders to mediate disputes in high-crime neighborhoods. The strategy received international attention after it was featured in the award-winning 2011 documentary “The Interrupters.”

Jalon Arthur, national director of training and technical assistance at Cure Violence, will serve as CeaseFire’s interim director while the organization searches for a permanent replacement.

“We’ve had a lot of success in the city this year and we want to ensure the continuity of that, and we have the right people in place to do that,” said Josh Gryniewicz, director of communication for Cure Violence, which operates programs in 15 cities.

“I feel shipwrecked and abandoned,” Hardiman said, pointing to his fund-raising success and the lack of murders this year in the Woodlawn community, where he worked with a team to prevent retaliatory shootings.

CeaseFire’s $1 million city contract also employs about a dozen staffers in North Lawndale on the West Side.

When “people in the communities weren’t receptive to [Slutkin’s] message, I stood up for him. I did not abandon him. I earned my salary for my salary by raising money every year,” Hardiman said.

He maintains that he is not guilty of the charges against him, but he said apologizes for any “negative attention” brought to the organization.

He released on bond Saturday and was scheduled to appear at a court hearing Tuesday.

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