A woman who secretly recorded a conversation with two Chicago Police investigators while filing a sexual harassment complaint last August was acquitted of the felony eavesdropping charges Wednesday, with one juror calling the trial a "waste of time."
As the Chicago Sun-Times reports, a Cook County jury took little more than an hour to find Tiawanda Moore not guilty of eavesdropping on police investigators, a crime which could have led to a sentence of up to 15 years in prison had she been convicted of the Class 1 felony.
The events that ultimately led to the eavesdropping charge began in July 2010, when Chicago police responded to a domestic disturbance call at the South Side home of Moore and her boyfriend. The two were questioned separately about the disturbance, and Moore was interviewed privately in her bedroom. She claims that the officer who questioned her came on to her, groped her breast and slipped her his home phone number, The Huffington Post reported earlier this year.
When Moore and her boyfriend attempted to report the incident and file a complaint with Chicago police investigators, they reportedly discouraged her from filing a report. That is when Moore pressed "record" on her Blackberry.
"I think it's something we can handle without having to go through this process … If all you want is to make sure he doesn't bother you again, we can almost guarantee that given that we're going to be able to speak to his superiors," investigators told Moore in the recording, which was played for the jury during Wednesday's trial, according to ABC 7.
The jury found Wednesday that Moore's case met the requirements of an exception to the law that allows recording in cases where a crime is suspected.
"The two cops came across as intimidating and insensitive … When we heard that, everyone (on the jury) just shook their head," a juror told the Chicago Tribune. "If what those two investigators were doing wasn't criminal, we felt it bordered on criminal, and she had the right to record it."
But prosecutors had a different perspective on the case. Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office contends that Moore's original statements to police "different drastically" than what she said in court, ABC 7 reports. They say credible evidence provided the basis of their prosecution of Moore.
The ACLU of Illinois, while not involved in Moore's case, has spoken out against the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, the law she was accused of violating, and filed a federal lawsuit challenging its constitutionality. Their suit contends that "individuals (and organizations such as the ACLU) may make audio (and video) recordings of police who are performing their public duties in a public place and speaking in a voice loud enough to be heard by the unassisted human ear."
"There is a lot of talk about the need for more transparency in government – we should demand that transparency from the police," Harvey Grossman, ACLU of Illinois legal director, said in a statement.
Thus far, the ACLU has been unsuccessful in their challenge of the law. Earlier this year a district court ruled against the organization. Judge Suzanne B. Conlon stated that the First Amendment does not protect citizens who record the police. ACLU has appealed and expects to participate in oral arguments in the fall.
As for the officers who are on tape encouraging Moore to refrain from filing the sexual harassment complaint? According to the Tribune, they were never investigated by the department. One of them was promoted to lieutenant.
The investigation file regarding Moore's original complaint has, meanwhile, been sealed by a court order.
"Everybody thought it was just a waste of time and that (Moore) never should have been charged," a juror told the Tribune.
Read more about other Illinois Eavesdropping Act cases here.
WATCH Moore discuss the charges filed against her:
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