Former lineman’s alleged crime raises awareness for LGBT

A former defensive lineman for the Illinois football team that was “arrested”: for aggravated battery in July remains in county jail, awaiting trial. Chris Jones allegedly assaulted two men on July 4, and his trial is set for Oct. 4.

The Daily Illini previously reported that there is evidence to suggest the reason for the battery was the victims’ sexual orientation. However, Julia Rietz, Champaign County State’s Attorney, said aggravated battery carries a longer possible sentence than a charge of a hate crime. It was therefore in the prosecution’s best interest to charge the crime as aggravated battery. Even if convicted, Jones’ record will not show any evidence of a hate crime.

“Students need to know about this incident,” said David Pileski, student body president.

He added that the issues of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT)”community “: through the Illinois Student Senate, or ISS.

“This campus is a community, and we want to serve all our students,” Pileski said.

He said discussions of these issues are becoming more mainstream. People on a national and even state scale are now more comfortable dealing with the problems that face the LGBT community, he added.

Pileski said the ISS wants to “educate and advocate personal “safety”:” The ISS is exploring the possibility of teaming up with the group PRIDE, a Registered Student Organization dedicated to serving the LGBT community and its allies. He said PRIDE has been working on setting up a safety seminar with University police and the ISS was hoping to get involved. They will be debating a resolution about co-hosting this seminar at Wednesday’s meeting.

The needs of the LGBT Resource Center on campus are another issue to address, Pileski said.

“They have a big need on campus, and their current location doesn’t allow them to satisfy that need,” he said.

Pileski said he would like to see the center have a bigger “physical footprint.”

The names of the victims of Jones’ alleged assault have not yet been released. The victims have also not appeared in the courtroom to this date, according to the Champaign County Circuit Court’s website.

Kent Brown, Sports Information Director, said Jones has dropped all classes and therefore is no longer involved with the football team. Brown said there is no way to know yet what the future holds for Jones as a potential member of the football team.

“We’ll make those decisions once we have all the information. There’s no point in even speculating now, we’ll let the legal system take its course and make decisions later,” Brown said.

He added that there was no way of knowing for sure what impact Jones might have had on the team, as the arrest occurred before the season began. Jones would have been a freshman at the University this year.

Jones is currently held on $100,000 bond. He was arraigned the day after his arrest and has since gone through a preliminary hearing.