When the Southwestern Illinois College police officers arrested Brad VanHoose in the college's library as he studied for a test last spring, he said it was the most humiliating experience of his life.
"Those kids were laughing at me as the cops walked me out," VanHoose said. "A kid in my class told me that he heard I punched a security guard."
VanHoose was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct. Those charges were dismissed by St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, who told a reporter the charges were dismissed for legal reasons and "for circumstances related to other ongoing investigations."
SWIC officers arrested VanHoose as he sat in the college's library studying for a test on April 10 after he passed a printed copy of a news story relating to Caseyville Police Chief J.D. Roth through the security window. That, according to the charge, was conduct "to cause alarm to" a SWIC police dispatcher.
Roth teaches at SWIC's police academy.
Later, as he sat in the security office, VanHoose asked for another police agency to come and monitor his detention. That alarmed a SWIC police officer and VanHoose was charged again with disorderly conduct.
VanHoose lives in Belleville but has an interest in Caseyville politics. He also is a Republican precinct committeeman.
VanHoose was taken from the school in handcuffs and barred for two days from college property. SWIC administration later changed that to a social restriction which allowed VanHoose to come to campus, but only for his scheduled classes.
VanHoose, who is studying to be a teacher, dropped two classes.
"It doesn't matter if you are a Democratic precinct committeeman, a Republican precinct committeeman, or have nothing to do with politics," said Kelly. "Your case will be prosecuted to the fullest or dismissed. That decision depends on the law and the facts, nothing else."
Kelly referred to the recent dismissal of the driving under the influence charge of Fairview Heights Police Sergeant and Democratic precinct committeeman James Krummrich.
VanHoose maintained during an interview Thursday that he was targeted by campus police because of his persistent filings of Freedom of Information requests with the village of Caseyville and his ongoing battle with village officials, including police chief Roth.
VanHoose filed FOIA requests regarding the Caseyville village's controversial fishing dock bidding application and hotel/motel committee. VanHoose won an decision by the Illinois Attorney General's office when the village declined his FOIA requests because he was a frequent requester.
"What happened to me at Southwestern Illinois College is directly linked to my Freedom of Information fight with the village of Caseyville," VanHoose said. "I am grateful to the St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly for seeing this for what it is and dismissing the charges."
"It's nothing political," Roth said. "It's business as usual. There was an ongoing investigation into threats against a village official."
Village Attorney Duane Clark stated in an order of protection petition he filed earlier this year against VanHoose that VanHoose made complaints to Roth, the Illinois Attorney General's office, the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois Stephen Wigginton. Clark later dropped the order of protection.
VanHoose also filed a complaint against SWIC for releasing his class schedule and his identification card to the Caseyville Police Department for an investigation into threats against Village Trustee Kerry Davis.
In that village police report, Davis alleged that VanHoose was sending harassing and threatening emails, including forwarding Belleville News-Democrat stories about the bidding process on the fishing dock.
That investigation is under advisement at Kelly's office, Roth said.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at email@example.com or 239-2570.