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Stephenson County, Illinois Shooting Lawsuit Update

On Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010, William Scott entered the home of his ex-wife, Annette Scott, and shot both Annette and her boyfriend, Rollin Dunham, before returning to his home and shooting himself in the head. Both Annette and William died from their injuries, but Rollin survived a gunshot to the abdomen and another to the lower leg.

At the time of the shooting, Annette had an Order of Protection on file with the Stephenson County, Illinois Sheriff’s Department. Annette had previously filed multiple Orders of Protection against William based on claims of domestic abuse, threats and stalking behaviors. Additionally, Annette called the Sheriff’s Department and filed numerous complaints relating to violations of these Orders of Protection. In fact, in the two weeks preceding the tragic events of April 4, 2010, Annette Scott had reported at least four violations of her recently-filed Order of Protection.

Orders of Protection were created as a provision in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The stated purpose of the Act is to “recognize domestic violence as a serious crime against the individual and society which . . . promotes a pattern of escalating violence which frequently culminates in intra-family homicide. . . .” 750 ILCS 60/102(1). Under Illinois law, a violation of an Order of Protection is considered a misdemeanor; however a repeat violation of an Order of Protection is considered a felony. 720 ILCS 5/12-30.

On November 9, 2010, Rollin Dunham and the Estate of Annette Scott filed a lawsuit against the Stephenson County Sheriff’s Office. The Complaint contains allegations that the Sheriff’s Office failed to protect Annette and Rollin by failing to investigate the reported violations of the Orders of Protection, by failing to divest William of his firearms despite knowledge that he possessed several, and failing to arrest William despite his commission of multiple felonies.

“Despite William’s well-known reputation for violence and his repeated violations of the law, the Sheriff and his deputies failed to arrest him. If they had taken the proper action and arrested William, this tragedy would not have happened,” said Devon C. Bruce of Power Rogers & Smith, P.C., who is representing the Plaintiffs.

The case is currently pending before the Honorable Judge Jeffrey of the Stephenson County Circuit Court. The parties are currently in the discovery phase of litigation attempting to determine the extent of the Sheriff Department’s knowledge regarding William Scott as well as their policies and procedures for handling violations of Orders of Protection.

References:
Orangeville shooting lawsuit moves forward; Sheriff’s office sued in wake of tragedy,” The Journal-Standard, by Travis Morse, April 19, 2012


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