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Lawyer: Wife of ex-CeaseFire leader was ‘beaten like an animal’

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Updated: July 6, 2013 6:24AM

Tio Hardiman says he “did not touch” his wife last week.

Prosecutors say Hardiman punched and kicked her. Her lawyer said she was “beaten like an animal.”

The truth will come out in court, the former leader of the anti-violence group CeaseFire Illinois said, as he fights the latest domestic battery charge leveled against him by prosecutors.

In a court filing more than 13 years ago, Hardiman’s first wife accused him of punching her repeatedly and telling her, “When I get finished with you, nobody’s gonna want you.”

“I never said nothing like that to nobody,” Hardiman told the Chicago Sun-Times when asked about it Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Hardiman wound up pleading guilty to one count of domestic battery in 1999, according to Cook County court records, and he received one year of court supervision.

Hardiman contends the charge he pleaded guilty to was “simple battery.”

As for the rest, Hardiman simply said “it’s all in the record.” That record shows prosecutors accused Hardiman of hitting Felicia Williams, his wife at the time, in the head with a closed fist and knocking her to the floor in 1999.

Hardiman lost his job at CeaseFire this week. Gary Slutkin, CeaseFire’s founder and director of its parent group, Cure Violence, also released a statement since Hardiman’s latest arrest. It affirmed his organization’s “zero-tolerance” policy regarding employees charged with domestic violence or violence against women or children.

Neither Slutkin nor his spokesman have returned calls this week to answer questions about Hardiman’s 1999 conviction — and when they learned about it. Hardiman said that policy wasn’t in place when he was hired by the group the same year.

That’s also the year he said he divorced Williams. Now he said he’s good friends with his ex-wife. She couldn’t be reached for comment.

“She has nothing but positive things to say about me,” Hardiman said.

The same thing can’t be said for Ferdinand Serpe, the lawyer for Hardiman’s current wife, Alison Hardiman.

Prosecutors say Tio Hardiman, 50, punched and kicked the 47-year-old woman, leaving her with bruises, a cut to her neck and a swollen lip Friday morning. He was arrested Friday at his home in west suburban Hillside.

Serpe said Alison Hardiman told him she was “beaten like an animal.” He said the woman is now in fear and has had a heart attack and two strokes within the last two years, including one stroke about a month ago.

“When she was being pummeled, he was well aware of that,” Serpe said.

Hardiman’s wife appeared in a Maywood courtroom Tuesday, where a judge entered an order prohibiting Tio Hardiman from contacting her. She quickly left the courtroom when the hearing ended, donning a pair of sunglasses.

Hardiman spoke to reporters after the hearing. He said he loves his wife, and he accused Serpe of being a “sinister individual.” He also had to pause and take a sip of water before answering questions about his firing.

“I feel that Dr. Slutkin, in particular, kind of turned his back on me in this moment of crisis,” Hardiman said.

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