Bonynge wins victory in court

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

A motion to suppress testimony was granted for Steven Bonynge, former Aledo Police officer.

Statements he made to State investigators during an interview conducted days before formal charges were filed in December will be suppressed during a jury trial. Judge Zimmer said he found Aledo Police Chief J. Michael Sponsler to be a credible witness, however, "(state investigators) Masters and Willis were evasive... not credible.

The defendant (Steven Bonynge) was credible and forthright in his answers. I believe the defendant that he was not allowed to leave (the interview location)."

The hearing on the motion was held March 30. The judge reviewed the evidence and made his ruling Monday, May 4.

Mr. Bonynge faces two counts of Class 2 felony aggravated criminal sexual abuse, the second because the alleged incident happened when he was in police uniform in a position of trust. A motion to dismiss the second charge is still pending. Defense Attorney William Gullberg said of the second charge, "There is no evidence anywhere."

Special prosecutor for the state, Michael Vujovich is appealing the decision to the appellate court. He said he will be filing a, "Certificate of impairment," describing that, "he (Judge Zimmer) has substantially impaired our ability to proceed with prosecution."

A May 26 Jury trial is set, but the case is put on hold while the appeal is heard.

At the March 30 hearing before Mercer County Circuit Court Judge Richard Zimmer, Mr. Bonynge's attorney, Mr. Gullberg, said Illinois State Police investigators on Dec. 10, 2014, coerced a confession from Mr. Bonynge under the guise of questioning about former police officer Seth Degelman.

Special Agent Masters said Mr. Bonynge admitted he had touched the breasts of an unnamed woman younger than 17 over her clothing.

Both Special Agent Masters and Illinois State Trooper Walt Willis denied holding Mr. Bonynge until the completion of his wife's interview held at the same time, without Mr. Bonynge's prior knowledge. They said Mr. Bonynge was not read his Miranda rights on Dec. 10 because he was not under arrest at that time. He was arrested on Dec. 12.

Defense Attorney William Gullberg said he is pleased with the outcome. "Basically, the defendant, the judge ruled, was taken into custody and made to look like he wasn't."

When asked if he believed the prosecution would continue in the case against Mr. Bonynge if the appelate court upholds Judge Zimmer's decision, he said, "I don't see any reason they can."