CLINTON, ILL.—Utilizing the handy “But They Did it Too” defense, an Illinois police officer has asked a judge to reverse his firing for watching porn on his squad car computer on the grounds that other officers—including the department chief—engaged in similar behavior.
"Pornography and Internet pornography was not outlawed at the Clinton Police Department as pornographic magazines were kept inside the department for years, including November 2008 through January 2009, and Chief Michael Reidy viewed and shared Internet pornography while on duty on his city-owned computer inside of the police department," Billy Hurst, 40, said in a petition submitted to the circuit court.
Hurst was terminated Oct. 13 by the Clinton Police and Fire Commission after having been accused Jan. 30 of violating police department rules by accessing several adult pornographic websites during a five-week period in December and January. In total, he watched more than 27 hours of porn on the squad car computer, his accusers claim.
Responding to Hurst’s accusation Monday, Chief Reidy said there is a big difference between the magazine fare favored by the department (and kept in the department restrooms) and the content Hurst was accessing in the car.
"What he was viewing was hard-core, obscene pornography. We're not talking about Playboy magazines in a restroom on break time," Reidy told Pantagraph.com, making comments that suggest he is unaware that only a jury can make a legally binding determination as to whether sexually explicit content is obscene or not.
Reidy did not comment on Hurst’s other allegation, that the city violated state eavesdropping laws by placing a monitoring device on the computer without his consent. After viruses were found on the squad car computer and a desktop computer at the station, a tech put the monitoring devices on them. According to the charges, the viruses and porn were all tracked to unauthorized usage by Hurst.
A possible counter to Hurst’s claim that he is being singled out is his prior suspension in 2003 for exposing himself to customers at a Clinton bar. Criminal charges were not filed in that matter or the recent case and Hurst remained on duty during the 10 months the computer-related case was pending, a nod to his 15-year career with the department.