Patrick Thompson Returns to Court Again

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NEARLY 3 AND A HALF YEARS after felony criminal charges
were filed against Patrick Thompson, the founder of
Visionaries Educating Youth and Adults (VEYA), the case
is again scheduled for a third jury trial in late January or
early February. Thompson, 38, of Champaign, has
remained accused of home invasion and criminal sexual
abuse since the creation of VEYA’s controversial video documentary,
Citizen Watch, in August of 2004.
The documentary became a community-wide issue
when then-State’s Attorney John Piland and then-Assistant
State’s Attorney, Elizabeth Dobson, attempted to charge
Thompson and co-VEYA member, Martel Miller, 43, also
of Champaign, with felony eavesdropping for audio
recording police officers in the public right of way during
routine pedestrian and traffic stops.
Miller was the first of the two videographers to be criminally
charged by Elizabeth Dobson on August 23, 2004.
Also on that day, Urbana police seized a copy of the documentary
from a public access television station as evidence
against the pair.
One day after Miller was indicted for eavesdropping,
Thompson was arrested at his home after Urbana police
alleged that Thompson (who is black) entered his nextdoor
neighbor’s apartment in the early morning of August
24, 2004, and attempted to rape a 32 year-old white
woman whom he did not know.
Thompson was placed into custody at the Champaign
County Jail on a $250,000 bond and charged with 5
felony counts, carrying a possible prison sentence of 120
years. Later that week, prosecutor Dobson added eavesdropping
charges against Thompson for his participation
in the videotaping of police during the summer of 2004.
Due to public pressure, State’s Attorney John Piland dismissed
the eavesdropping charges against Martel Miller in
September of 2004. Piland, however, refused to drop the
eavesdropping charges against Thompson.
In the November 2004 election, Piland, the 10-year
incumbent was defeated by current-State’s Attorney Julia
Reitz, who credited her victory partially to the uproar over
the eavesdropping prosecution by Piland. Upon election,
Reitz asked for Dobson’s resignation. In one of her first acts
as State’s Attorney, Reitz dismissed the remaining eavesdropping
charges against Thompson. However, Reitz claimed she
had represented Thompson in a prior matter, and due to this
apparent conflict of interest, Reitz claimed she could not dismiss
the home invasion case against Thompson.
In a December 1, 2004 pre-trial hearing, newly-hired
assistant state’s attorney Steve Ziegler did not object to
Thompson’s bond being lowered from the original $250,000
to $5000 and Thompson’s release on his own recognizance.
In June of 2005, Thompson and Miller filed a pro se
federal civil lawsuit against the Champaign Police Chief, 2
Champaign Police Chief Deputies, 4 patrol officers of the
Champaign Police Department, the assistant Urbana Chief
of Police, the Champaign City Attorney, the Champaign
City Manager, and attorneys John Piland and Elizabeth
Dobson for various constitutional violations during the
unlawful seizure of their video camera and documentary;
and for the malicious prosecution of felony eavesdropping.
Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney admitted to the
News-Gazette that the eavesdropping charges were only
filed to “leverage” Miller and Thompson “to the table” for
discussions about videotaping the police. Included in
Thompson’s complaint is a racial profiling traffic stop
against Thompson.
In the summer of 2004, assistant state’s attorney Dobson
engaged in “ride-alongs” with Champaign Police officer
David Griffet, and videotaped Thompson videotaping her.
On August 7, 2004, Dobson authorized Officer Griffet to
seize VEYA’s video camcorder and film for evidence in the
eavesdropping case. Dobson was also the prosecuting
attorney who presented evidence before the Grand Jury on
Sept. 2, 2004 in the home invasion case against Thompson.
The federal lawsuit filed by Thompson and Miller
remains pending. Due to the overwhelming caseload at the
federal courthouse, Federal Judge Harold Baker has scheduled
that trial for March of 2009. An out-of-court settlement
conference between plaintiffs and defendants has
been scheduled for January 11, 2008.
In July of 2005, Thompson represented himself pro se
during the first trial of the home invasion case. During that
trial, the state admitted that it had no physical evidence of
an attempted rape occurring that morning of August 24,
2004. I a departure from police department procedure,
Hediger testified that he conducted no investigation at the
scene of the alleged crime. The State said the home invasion
case came down to whether they believed the victim or not.
Thompson attempted to subpoena defense witnesses
who would have testified that Thompson’s accuser had
falsely accused them of sexual misconduct at the accuser’s
workplace in the past. This testimony was not allowed to be
heard at the first trial because presiding Judge Tom Difanis,
who had hired Elizabeth Dobson to be an assistant state’s
attorney in 1984, ruled that the accuser’s past record of false
sexual allegations could not be allowed into evidence in the
Thompson trial. Trial judge Clem abided by the Difanis ruling
and Clem later stated, for the record, that barring
Thompson’s defense witnesses at the first trial was in error.
The he-said/she-said case ended in a mistrial as the jury
was deadlocked at 6–6. Prosecutor Vujovich chose to retry
the case, and 4 days before the second trial was to commence,
the accuser’s criminal charges were dismissed by
the state’s attorney’s office.
Thompson elected to hire local defense attorney, Harvey
Welch to represent him at the second trial, and the case was
postponed further to allow Welch time to prepare. Court
records show Welch filed a supplemental motion for discovery,
indicating Welch planned to call the defense witnesses
Thompson had subpoenaed in the first trial.
It was revealed at trial, however, Welch failed to subpoena
anyone other than a last-minute subpoena of the
one defense witness Thompson had put on the stand in
the first trial, a neighbor who lived below the accuser.
Prosecutor Vujovich impeached the neighbor’s testimony,
reminding the jury that the witness had a past conviction
for an unrelated obstruction of justice charge from Dec.
2003. The witness had pled guilty to giving a false name
during a traffic stop. The jury returned a verdict of guilty
on 1 count of home invasion and 1 count of criminal sexual
abuse on Friday, July 7, 2006.
With the help of community activists, Thompson fired
Welch and retained the services of Bob Kirchner to file a posttrial
motion for re-trial. Thompson remained free on bond
until April of 2007, when Judge Clem ruled that Thompson
should be granted a new trial due to ineffective assistance of
counsel; and that the improper hearsay evidence Welch failed
to object to is prejudicial to the defendant.
The Kirchner Law Office has filed numerous pre-trial
motions barring the state from using hearsay testimony
again, limiting the prosecutor’s opening and closing arguments
to only the evidence, and barring the state from
using Thompson’s past criminal record to impeach
Thompson should he choose to take the stand. In the
state’s effort to prove a crime had actually occurred on
August 24, 2004, Clem ruled that criminal records over 10
years old would be prejudicial to the defendant.
Defense attorneys for Thompson have also filed a motion
for sanctions and/or case dismissed over the state’s failure to
secure and protect the 911 audio recording made when the
accuser called METCAD on the morning of Aug. 24.
Thompson’s criminal trial is set to begin Monday, April
14 at 1:30 PM. Thompson has been free on bond and is
currently enrolled at Eastern Illinois University, majoring
in the Career and Organization Studies program. Thompson
received his associate degree in criminal justice from
Parkland College in 2007. VEYA continues to mentor atrisk
youth and has approximately 20 students engaged in
VEYA’s various self-improvement programs. Thompson,
who is married with 4 children, has also produced a new
video documentary about the October 8, 2006 protestdemonstration
in front of the News-Gazette. It was shown
numerous times on UPTV last winter.
Thompson has filed a small claims in civil court against
defense attorney Welch. The suit asks for the return of all
monies paid to Welch in the second trial. That hearing is
scheduled for February 22. The schedule for Thompson’s
criminal trial can be found at or
check the UCIMC website at

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