LITTLE VILLAGE — A man notorious in Andersonville for his alleged sexual harassment of women has taken his predatory behavior to the Cook County Jail, officials say — and now faces more charges.
Willie Wright Jr., 41, was charged Sept. 4 with one count of public indecency/lewd conduct for an incident Aug. 26 — just six days after being arrested for grabbing a woman as she emerged from a ride-sharing vehicle near Clark and Foster.
In this latest incident, Wright is accused of exposing himself to a female guard and masturbating while looking in her direction while in a dayroom at the Cook County Jail. Each unit, or pod, at Cook County Jail includes a dayroom where inmates eat and watch television.
On Thursday, Wright was in court again and was appointed a public defender for the jail case.
Court records show Wright has been arrested dozens of times in the last two years for charges that include public indecency, sexual misconduct, lewd exposure, battery and assault. Before his Aug. 20 arrest, Cook County Judge Donald Panarese barred Wright from a large section of Andersonville.
Wright was being held on $7,500 bond for the Aug. 20 incident. On Sept. 4, he received a $5,000 bond for the incident inside the jail by Judge Susana Ortiz and was appointed a public defender Thursday.
Masturbating and aggressive sexual behavior toward jail guards is nothing new to Cook County Jail. In August, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly gave the green light to class-action lawsuits by former female employees who say they were prompted to quit because of behavior from inmates. Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart and Public Defender Amy Campanelli are named as defendants in the suit.
Cook County Sheriff’s spokesman Matt Walberg said in an emailed statement, “The Cook County Sheriff’s Office takes all offenses against staff very seriously, and thoroughly investigates and refers these criminal acts to the State’s Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”
Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), who has been following the cases against Wright, was not in court Tuesday because he didn’t find out about the jail incident until the last minute, but he said he will be in court at Wright’s next appearance, scheduled for 9 a.m. Oct. 8 at Grand and Central.
Osterman added the most recent case against Wright shows he isn’t likely to stop.
“If he’s doing this while he’s in jail awaiting trial on other violations that are similar, I think it’s a very clear indication to the court and to law enforcement that he’s not able to change his behavior,” Osterman said. “My concern is that if he gets out he’s going to do this again.”
As to what he’d like to see happen to Wright, Osterman said that’s something for the court to determine.
“I don’t know what the solution is. My hope is that the court will require an evaluation of Mr. Wright to find out what the appropriate solution is but I think him being out on the streets is not a solution,” Osterman said.
Last week, another Wright victim said she would “not stop talking about this” until something was done to stop the man accused of sexually assaulting her at work in October 2018.
“This person is a real threat,” said victim Kelsey Tibble.
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