Judge Dismisses Charges Against Moustis
Matthew Moustis, son of Will County Board Chairman and Frankfort Township Supervisor Jim Moustis, no longer faces aggravated battery charges in connection with a July stabbing. The alleged victim's father says the family will be filing a civil suit.
Matthew Moustis—wearing a tie and white-and-blue pinstriped shirt, with his hair tightly cut and a solemn expression on his face—looked nothing like the smiling, tousled-hair teen in his mug shot as he stood with his mother in a Will County courtroom Friday and listened as a judge dismissed charges against him in connection with a summer stabbing incident.
The Frankfort teen, the son of Will County Board Chairman and Frankfort Township Supervisor Jim Moustis, was charged in July with aggravated battery after police said he stabbed Mokena resident Brandon Lauer, then 18, in the Indian Trail School parking lot in Frankfort Square. The confrontation related to Moustis' 16-year-old girlfriend, who Moustis accused Lauer of stalking, according to court documents.
Lauer suffered a 6-inch cut to the neck and a wound to the stomach in the incident.
Because of the potential conflict of interest due to Jim Moustis' role as County Board chairman, the Will County State's Attorney's Office asked Illinois' Special Prosecution Unit to handle the case to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
Although he said he could not comment on the specifics of the grand jury proceedings, Chuck Colburn, the special prosecutor assigned to the case, said the grand jury didn't find the evidence compiled by the Illinois State Police to be compelling enough to earn an indictment. It was a decision he understood and agreed with, he said.
"I'm happy it's over," Matthew Moustis said after the hearing. He also thanked his parents and attorney, former Will County State's Attorney Jeff Tomczak.
In a press conference held after the hearing, Tomczak said evidence gathered by the state police and by his own investigators proved his client's case.
He cited a video of Lauer attempting to run Moustis off the road, as well as two eyewitnesses who were at Indian Trail Park at the time of the alleged incident and said they saw only Lauer, not Moustis.
"I want everyone to understand that this is a very innocent young man who has a long time to go, building his reputation back," Tomczak said.
Tomczak and Moustis' parents also praised the work of the special prosecutor and law enforcement officials in their handling of the matter.
"All along, I trusted the judicial system to work, reveal the truth and exonerate my son," Matthew's mother, Sue Moustis said, reading from a written statement. "I truly believe if my husband was not a public figure and did not hold his elected position, Matthew would never have been charged."
Eric Lauer, Brandon Lauer's father, disagrees with that. He called the grand jury decision a "political game" and a "cover up," and he claimed that Jim Moustis' political influence was protecting his son from criminal prosecution.
"My family is being torn up by the Moustis group," he said in a phone interview Thursday.
Although he did not attend the hearing, Lauer was outside the Will County Courthouse, where he distributed printouts of Facebook photos, allegedly showing Matthew Moustis engaged in illegal activity.
Lauer also claimed he has printouts of Facebook pages containing harassing comments from Matthew Moustis and friends of the teen.
Jim Moustis called the harassment claims "absolutely baseless" and said the only contact he has had with the Moustis family is in the courtroom.
"I wouldn't know him if he was standing right over there," he said, adding that he refers to the Lauers as the "Liar" family.
Sue Moustis also had harsh words for the Lauers in her statement.
"The Lauer family should be ashamed for waging a public campaign of misinformation and propaganda in the media and on the Internet," she said. "While we rightfully stood silent and let the judicial system work, their actions caused immeasurable anguish and pain for our family."
Lauer said he will be filing a civil suit against Moustis as well as Will County for their mishandling of the investigation—a claim Colburn disagrees with.
"All I can tell you is a very thorough five-and-a-half-month investigation was conducted," Colburn said. "All evidence was fully looked at. It was a very complete and professionally done investigation."
Although a civil case will prolong matters, Lauer says he wants nothing more than to be done with this incident.
"We'd like to move on with this and get our civil case and move the hell out of Will County," he said.
UPDATE—5:28 p.m. Friday: The following is the full, unedited text from statements read Friday by Sue and Jim Moustis, the parents of Matthew Moustis.
As Matthew's mother, I am relieved and thankful by the decision today. All along, I trusted the judicial system to work, reveal the truth, and exonerate my son. I truly believe if my husband was not a public figure and did not hold his elected position, Matthew would never have been charged.
What I did not expect was the horrific experience my son and our family would have to endure during the process. If it was not enough that my son was falsely charged with baseless allegations, he was then inundated with various levels of verbal harassment from numerous sources. The Lauer family should be ashamed for waging a public campaign of misinformation and propaganda in the media and on the Internet. While we rightfully sat silent and let the judicial system work, their actions caused immeasurable anguish and pain for our family.
Matthew should have been able to enjoy his senior year in high school with his friends. Instead, we had to pull him out and home school him because of the amount of harassment he faced on a daily basis. As a mother, seeing a son endure this persecution broke my heart.
But once again, I am thankful for the vindication that came today and hopeful my son's life can return to some level of normalcy. On behalf of our family, thank you to those in the public who reserved judgment and treated us with fairness during the entire process.
This has been a difficult time for my son and our entire family. I never once believed Matthew could be guilty of such a crime, and the charges made were groundless and without merit.
The rush to judgment by some within law enforcement, the public and media were regrettable, and is not a true reflection of the many fair-minded and just people within the Will County community.
I am glad that the case was reviewed independently by the highest levels of law enforcement within the State of Illinois, and my thank goes out to the members of the Will County Grand Jury who appropriately concluded there was no reason for a trial.
I am sorry my son had to endure the publicity and the uncertainty surrounding this case. I am glad we can now put the matter behind us and that Matthew can now move on with his life.