Ex-Obama aide sues cops, Gold Coast restaurant

By: Diana Novak, Chicago Sun-Times: March 26th, 2013

A former official in Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign on Monday accused police of improperly arresting him on charges he sexually assaulted a hostess at Tavern on Rush restaurant in the Gold Coast neighborhood.

Craig Huffman, who was an assistant treasurer for Obama’s 2004 campaign, was acquitted of the criminal charges. He filed a federal lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court against the City of Chicago; Tavern on Rush and its owner, Phil Stefani Signature Events; five police officers, and others.

Huffman, managing director of Ascendance Partners, a real-estate investment firm, was arrested at his office in December 2011 after a hostess at Tavern on Rush alleged that an African-American man had groped her, and Huffman was chosen in a photo lineup. The suit claims that police pursued Huffman, who was at the restaurant that night, after taking his name from the reservation list, and included his photo in a lineup even though he did not meet the hostess’ description.

After his arrest, Huffman lost an opportunity to visit the White House and numerous business opportunities “due to the stigma of the arrest,” according to the suit.

“Police officers routinely fail to report instances of police misconduct and lie to protect each other from punishment, and go undisciplined for doing so; The City of Chicago has failed to act to remedy the patterns of abuse, despite actual knowledge of the same,” the suit reads.

Huffman was acquitted through a directed verdict in December. The nine-count suit seeks compensation for damages and Huffman’s legal fees, estimated at $120,000.

A spokesman for the city’s law department said it had not seen the suit yet and he could not comment.

Repeated efforts to reach a spokesman at Phil Stefani Signature Events were unsuccessful Monday.

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