WHEATON – An aggressive message left on the voicemail inbox of state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R - Wheaton, was an example of free speech and not a threat, according to the lawyer of the man behind the message.
The judge overseeing the case will have until Jan. 10 to decide whether the charges will be dropped or the man will continue to trial.
In March 2013, Stephen Bona, 50, of Chicago, was charged with threatening a public official after leaving a message telling Ives “We know where you live” in response to statements the legislator made on a radio program disparaging same sex marriage and gay people and supporting concealed carry gun laws.
Bona, who is gay and in a civil union, said “Your Tea Party brethren, Sarah Palin, put up a map that included the names, locations, faces of Democratic candidates and put them in the crosshairs of a gun. Perhaps we should do the same for you,” according to DuPage County court documents provided by Bona’s defense.
“There is no longer an assault weapons ban,” he said. “Perhaps you should think about that before you speak next time, [expletives].”
Bona’s attorney, equal rights lawyer Joanie Rae Wimmer, said the message exemplified free speech and was not a threat. She filed a motion to dismiss the charges brought against her client.
The DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office is pursuing the case under the “true threat” aspect of prohibited speech, Wimmer said, but she argued Bona never threatened any actual harm to the representative.
“There’s nothing in that, that suggests he has got an assault weapon or that he is going to use an assault weapon,” she said. “If you say ‘I’m going to hurt you if you’re going to do that again,’ that’s a threat, and that’s the distinction.”
DuPage County Judge Blanche Hill Fawell originally was scheduled to determine the charges’ constitutionality Dec. 20, but the hearing was continued until Jan. 10.
Ives’ office issued a brief statement regarding the matter.
“The case is in the hands of the State’s Attorney and the court,” she said in the statement. “My office has complied – and will comply – with any and all requests from the court.”