Group says ex-leader of CeaseFire helped implement rule against domestic violence
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter email@example.com June 5, 2013 10:17AM
Tio Hardiman leaves the Cook County courthouse in Maywood on Tuesday. | Jon Seidel~Sun-Times
Updated: July 7, 2013 12:29PM
CeaseFire Illinois’ former leader “should have volunteered” information about his 1999 domestic battery conviction to its parent agency, a spokesman said, because he was “fully aware” of and helped implement a zero-tolerance policy toward domestic violence charges.
Tio Hardiman, who lost his job at CeaseFire this week, was arrested on a new charge of domestic battery Friday for allegedly beating his wife. Cure Violence, CeaseFire’s parent group, responded with a statement the same day affirming its “zero-tolerance” policy for people charged with domestic violence or crimes against women or children.
But then prosecutors disclosed Hardiman had been convicted once before for domestic battery — more than 13 years ago. Court records released Tuesday show his now ex-wife accused him at the time of punching her repeatedly and telling her “When I get finished with you, nobody’s gonna want you.”
He wound up pleading guilty to the domestic battery charge, court records show, and received one year of court supervision. Hardiman has maintained the charge he pleaded guilty to was “simple battery.”
Cure Violence spokesman Josh Gryniewicz said Wednesday his organization wasn’t aware of Hardiman’s 1999 conviction until it was reported in the media. The group has a formal process for background checks, he said, but he couldn’t immediately answer questions about what was done in Hardiman’s case.
The zero-tolerance policy was implemented around 2003 or 2004, he said — around the hiring of Dr. Candice Kane as chief operating officer — but it would have been retroactive.
And, Gryniewicz said, Hardiman was well aware of it.
“Part of Mr. Hardiman’s responsibility when he was in that role was to implement that policy on any worker who was in violation of it,” Gryniewicz said. “So he was not just fully aware, he helped craft it.”
Hardiman became director of the anti-violence group in 2008 and denied that he helped craft the policy or even that he implemented it. He said that was the job of the human resources staff.
He said the group conducted a criminal background check when it hired him in 1999. The charge he pleaded guilty to was a misdemeanor, records show, so he said he did not have to disclose it because he’d not been convicted of a felony.
“I have not been convicted of any felonies,” Hardiman said.
Finally, though he conceded he was aware of the zero-tolerance policy, he said it didn’t apply to him because it was crafted years after his conviction.
“You don’t have nothing in writing that states that that policy is retroactive,” Hardiman said. “That’s not right. That’s not right at all. That policy’s not retroactive. Because how can you do that?”
Prosecutors now say Hardiman punched and kicked his wife at their home in west suburban Hillside, leaving her with bruises, a cut to her neck and a swollen lip Friday morning. Her lawyer told reporters Tuesday she was “beaten like an animal.”
Hardiman maintains he loves his wife, “did not touch” her last week and that the truth will come out in court.