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Villa Park village president candidate John Heidelmeier to remain in race after photo scandal

VILLA PARK — John Heidelmeier, a candidate for Villa Park village president and the town's former police chief, will remain in the April 9 race after a partially nude photo of him surfaced online.

In a statement, Heidelmeier apologized to family and supporters about two pictures recently found on an Internet sex website. In one picture, Heidelmeier is wearing a blue shirt and looking at the web camera, while the other shows an exposed genital underneath that shirt.

"I am aware that a website surfaced ... which contains private pictures of me that are personally embarrassing," Heidelmeier wrote. "I acknowledge that these images on this website are of me. I did nothing unlawful or anything that diminishes my ability to serve the people of Villa Park.

"I regret that this private situation became public and I apologize to my supporters, but more importantly to my wife and family," he said in the statement. "I appreciate the continued flood of support from those who have stood by me throughout this campaign and believe in my abilities as a leader. I have discussed this situation with my wife and her support remains unwavering. How this became public is meaningless, but I want to assure my opponent and supporters that I will stay steadfast in the race and let the voters take a careful look at the real issues facing Villa Park on April 9th."

Heidelmeier, who could not be reached directly for comment, is running against Trustee Deborah Bullwinkel for village president on April 9. He most recently served as police chief of Villa Park before he was ousted in January 2012.

"I still think he'll do a good job," said Rich Biagioli, a candidate for Villa Park trustee who has run his campaign closely with Heidelmeier. "I truly do."

Trustee John Davis discovered the photos on Tuesday, when someone anonymously printed them out and put them in his mailbox, along with a photo of the website.

When reached via email on Thursday, Davis declined to comment further, saying he runs "a clean race" and did not want to spread any more information.

"I do not want to have anything to do with this issue," Davis said. "This is a private matter for the Heidelmeier family."

Bullwinkel said she was made aware of the photos by Davis on Tuesday. She said she did not receive any similar, anonymous mailings.

"I certainly consider this a private matter," she said. "John and his family are dealing with it and we need to give them their privacy."

• Reporter Ed McMenamin contributed to this report.

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