State Rep.’s Daughter Charged in Opponent’s Campaign Office Beating

Jessica Soto and Bradley Fichter, both 26, each face three felony counts of aggravated battery

The daughter of Illinois state Rep. Cynthia Soto has been charged in connection with the brutal beating of her mother's former challenger.

The candidate, Bob Zwolinski, has said he was attacked by two of Soto's campaign volunteers at his campaign headquarters in Chicago earlier this month.

Jessica Soto and Bradley Fichter, both 26, each face three felony counts of aggravated battery after Zwolinski was attacked in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village, police announced Friday. Fichter also faces a felony charge of disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report. Both were ordered held on $25,000 bonds. 

The charges come 11 days after a bruised and bloodied Zwolinski told NBC 5 he was kicked, choked, hit with a beer bottle and even stapled in the head by his then-opponent’s campaign volunteers.

Zwolinski sought to unseat Cynthia Soto in the race for the 4th District Illinois House seat and lost Tuesday's primary election to the 16-year incumbent.

Zwolinski said he was attacked after pulling up to his offices on the 800 block of North Ashland Avenue shortly before 9 p.m. March 7. He saw Jessica Soto and Fichter stapling posters to the building he had rented and asked the two to stop, which is when the conversation took a violent turn, according to Zwolinski.

“I thought it may have been a relative of [Cynthia Soto's] just because of the passion,” Zwolinksi said Friday of the woman later identified as Jessica Soto.

Attorney Frank Avila, who represents both Jessica Soto and Fitcher, told NBC 5 Friday he was "shocked" by the charges. He said Jessica Soto "was not involved in the altercation" and that Fitcher was there with another volunteer at the time of the fight.

"There are a lot of inconsistencies with Mr. Zwolinski's story," Avila said.

After the attack, Zwolinksi told police the woman involved had jumped on his back and a staple was planted in his head.

"How does he know it was her?" Avila asked. "He says she jumped on his back and then he fell to the ground."

Avila believes Zwolinksi wrongly identified Jessica Soto in a lineup.

Both sides filed police reports pointing fingers at the other. Chicago police investigated the incident before taking Soto and Fichter into custody Wednesday. Formal charges were filed Friday morning.

Both Jessica Soto and Fichter are scheduled to appear in bond court Friday.

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