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The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Three judges recuse themselves in Fort lawsuit

  • Details of former Saline County chief deputy Todd Fort's civil suit against States Attorney Mike Henshaw are now public record.
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  • Details of former Saline County chief deputy Todd Fort's civil suit against States Attorney Mike Henshaw are now public record.
    The Daily Register obtained a copy of Forts' suit, which consists of three counts and a request for punitive damages. The general allegations of the suit revolve around the release of tapes of phone calls between Fort and family members, among whom were Forts mother, sister, son and daughter. Fort's mother and sister were suffering from terminal cancer at the time of the phone calls. Some one hundred hours of these tapes were released to a media outlet, which posted the tapes on the internet, and consisted of personal and private information between Fort and his relatives.
    The general allegations of the suit maintain that Henshaw released the tapes "for the purpose of ridiculing, embarrassing, humiliating and otherwise making Fort, his family, and his friends suffer extreme emotional distress."
    Count one is Intrusion upon Seclusion and maintains that the release of the tapes was not authorized by Fort and that Fort had a "reasonable expectation" that those private and personal conversations would not be disseminated, in that other incarcerated individuals had not had their conversations, "leaked to the media." Count one further maintains that Fort "suffered extreme anguish and suffering when he learned of the publication of said tapes" and asks for his costs of the suit and an amount in excess of $50,000.00 to be determined by the court.
    Count two is Public Disclosure of Private Facts and maintains that by releasing the tapes Henshaw decided to give publicity to facts that were "highly private in nature" and having these facts disclosed on the internet is something that "would be highly offensive to any reasonable person." Count two asks for the same damages and costs as count one.
    Count three is Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and maintains that Henshaws actions in releasing the tape were "extreme and outrageous," that Henshaw released the tape with the intent of inflicting emotional distress on Fort and that Fort did suffer emotional distress as a result of Henshaws actions. This count also asks for costs of the suit and damages in excess of $50,000. This count also asks for "other such relief as this court deems to be equitable and just."
    Count four is a request for punitive damages in that Henshaws' decision to release the tapes "was made with actual malice directed towards Fort." The suit asks for punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the court "but in any event not less than $100,000.
    In the general allegations of the suit, it is noted that Henshaw and Fort "had known each other for more than twenty years," that prior to Forts incarceration Fort and Henshaw had been "active in the Harrisburg community," and that "during the said twenty year period, Henshaw had developed an antipathy and enmity toward Fort."
    Page 2 of 2 - As of this date, Judges Todd D. Lambert, Walden E. Morris and Joseph M. Leberman have recused themselves from presiding over the suit. Morris was the judge who heard the criminal case against Fort. A Judges Assignment Request in the First Judicial Circuit was filed on June 27, with Office of the Chief Judge, Williamson County Courthouse, Marion.
    When reached by phone, Mike Henshaw stated that it was not his policy to comment on any active case and thus had no comment at this time. Henshaw did say that the Illinois Attorney General's Office was representing him in this suit.
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