Retired Peoria Police Officer Cleared By Federal Jury

A federal court jury in Peoria has ruled in favor of a 30-year veteran of the Peoria Police Department who was sued on allegations of maliciously prosecuting at Peoria man.

Shawn Meeks, who has since retired from the police department, was cleared Friday by the jury after two hours of deliberation.

The suit, seeking millions in dollars in damages, was filed on behalf of Steven Cole, 65, who was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing a 20-month-old girl after a police and Department of Children and Family Services investigation determined the girl’s mother noticed injuries to her daughter Jan. 8, 2009, the morning after Cole and his wife, Janet, babysat the child.

Following Cole’s conviction, Janet Cole, 62, pleaded guilty to attempted obstruction of justice for trying to hide the girl’s injuries.

Steven Cole was freed in 2015, when an Illinois Appellate Court reversed his conviction. Following his release, Cole sued Meeks, two County prosecutors and a DCFS investigator. All but Meeks were dismissed from the suit in 2016 and the jury trial began April 15 of this year.

Meeks, who retired in 2018, contended all the evidence in the case showed the abuse occurred while the child was in the Cole’s care.

“The City backed Meeks throughout the litigation because the City strongly believed the evidence completely disproved the allegations that were against him,” said City Manager Patrick Urich in a news release.

Meeks’ attorney, Jim Sotos, said he was “pleased the jury saw through Cole’s false accusations, and preserved Meeks’ unblemished record of distinguished service to the City of Peoria.”



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