Former Deputy Police Chief Changes Plea in Sex Abuse Case

Anthony Debois pleaded not guilty in March to federal charges of aggravated sex abuse; Investigation reveals he's no stranger to lawsuits

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Anthony Debois pleaded not guilty in March to federal charges he sexually abused a woman in custody. Through his attorney, he now admits he did have sex with someone in his office at the police station but says it wasn't a woman who was in custody.

    Everyone agrees former deputy police chief Anthony Debois had sex in his office at the police station in suburban Markham. The government accused him of it, and he admitted it.

    The open question is who the women were. Debois first told the FBI he had only had an encounter with one woman who is now his wife.

    "He has admitted that was not a true statement," said Debois’ attorney Terry Ekl. "Because he did have sex with another woman. But it was not a prisoner. It was not a person who was in custody."

    Prosecutors insist the officer did have sex with a woman who was in custody, and when he was indicted earlier this year they accused him of "violating the civil rights of a victim through acts that included aggravated sexual abuse."

    On Thursday, they took the unusual step of accepting Debois’ guilty plea to a single charge of lying to the FBI. But in court, Assistant U.S. Attorney April Perry said she and her colleagues would prove at sentencing, who, exactly, the former chief was ensconced with in his Markham office.

    "The woman who has told the government that she was a prisoner and had sex with Tony Debois while she was a prisoner is a stone cold liar, and a perjurer," Ekl said.

    Without being specific, both sides suggested that the sentencing hearing in January could shape up as a he-said, she-said battle, with both women called in to testify.

    "Her credibility is absolutely zero," Ekl said, maintaining that he and fellow counsel Terry Gillespie can prove that the woman in question told authorities she had zero contact with Debois after the alleged sexual encounter but left a trail of text messages and phone calls which contradicts her official version.

    To the taxpayers, of course, the entire dispute would seem to be a bit academic. After all, most citizens do not want their police administrators engaging in sex in government offices.

    "Do I think it was bad judgment? Absolutely," Ekl said. "Do I think it could have been a rules violation at the Markham police station? Absolutely. Was it a heinous federal crime? Absolutely not."

    Debois is certainly no stranger to the federal court system. An examination of court files shows that he has been repeatedly sued by citizens in Markham and Harvey, where he once worked, alleging infractions ranging from unreasonable search to false arrest and excessive force.

    At least nine cases were filed out of Markham with another eight in Harvey. Almost all were settled out of court. Most of the parties, citing confidentiality agreements, refuse to divulge the settlement amounts. But NBC5 Investigates has learned that the total payout from just three of the cases was well in excess of a million dollars.

    "They weren’t criminal charges, they were civil cases that were settled," Debois said outside of court.

    Ekl said it should be no surprise that a cop he described as a "wonderful, dedicated officer" had been the target of repeated litigation.

    "He’s been actively sued, because he is, or was, a very aggressive police officer," Ekl said. "Those accusations that were made against him were not true."

    Ekl speculated insurance companies representing the two suburbs rushed to settle the cases rather than engaging in costly court fights.

    A spokesman for Harvey, and Mayor David Webb of Markham, did not return calls seeking comment.