A former Chicago Bears offensive lineman who became a guard of a different sort after his pro football career ended was acquitted this week of charges he ran a fight ring among detainees at a state youth prison in St. Charles.
Johan Asiata — who spent 2009 and 2010 with the Bears before he was cut in 2011 — was found not guilty Tuesday of official misconduct, aggravated battery and unlawful restraint.
Kane County Judge David Kliment issued the not guilty verdicts for Asiata and two co-workers at the Illinois Youth Center — St. Charles. The facility is a medium-security detention center for boys.
“Johan and I and his family are elated with the verdict,” his attorney, David M. Smith of Chicago Trusted Attorneys, told us. “He is a loving, kind, generous husband and father and member of the community, and has always wanted to put others first.”
Smith said he and Asiata have not discussed whether the former NFL player wants to return to work at the detention center.
According to Smith, the case showed the state provided inadequate training for IYC guards and inconsistency in enforcing standards of conduct for those workers. “They (Asiata and the two co-defendants) did their best,” he said.
Asiata, 35, Andre McFarland, 35, and Elliot Short, 39, were accused of encouraging detainees to beat and rob each other in January 2016 and of standing idly by during the attacks, according to authorities.
One former detainee testified Asiata and other guards would use him and other detainees as an enforcement crew, sending them to discipline other detainees who had broken rules.
When we first wrote about the case, we noted Asiata had attended a school for at-risk youths, run by the Hawaii National Guard. In a 2007 interview with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, he credited football with taking him away from “knucklehead” life on the streets of Honolulu. The 6-foot, 4-inch teen went on to become the starting right tackle at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and joined the Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
A fourth man charged in the Illinois Youth Center case — who authorities allege was the ringleader — awaits trial. Michael Klimek’s jury trial was supposed to start Thursday afternoon, but Kane County is not holding jury trials because of the pandemic. His case was rescheduled to Oct. 21. He faces 76 felony counts.
Source: The Daily Chronicle