A series of fortunate events in the three months following Natalie Manley’s arrest on suspicion she battered her adult daughter resulted in the Democrat state rep candidate emerging from her legal ordeal with virtually no trace she spent a night in jail and faced possible prosecution.
There is no criminal complaint against Manley on file in the office of the Will County Circuit Clerk, nor is there a misdemeanor case, despite Manley’s arrest on probable cause for domestic battery.
Manley also was spared the indignity of a bond hearing in open court, posting $300 for her release from the Will County Jail after First Assistant State’s Attorney Ken Grey got together with Chief Judge Gerald Kinney to appoint a special prosecutor from Springfield to the case. That meeting took place in private, in the judge’s chambers, the day after Manley was arrested and jailed.
Manley’s file is listed as a “miscellaneous remedy” case—a catchall for civil and criminal matters that don't fit into other legal categories—but the file does not describe why the special prosecutor asked for the case against her to be dismissed.
Officers with the Joliet Police Department decided to jail Manley on May 8 after her 21-year-old daughter showed up at the downtown station claiming she had been attacked upon returning to her mother’s Ingalls Avenue home, where she also lived.
Bridgette Manley reportedly told Joliet police she had lost her cell phone and was unable to let her mother know she would be home late.
When she did make it home at about 2 a.m., her mother “punched, kicked, knocked her to the ground, struck her in the face (and) hit her with a set of keys,” police said.
Officers observed visible injuries on Bridgette Manley, including bruises, police said.
The motion to dismiss the case apparently was made orally about two months after another closed-door meeting, this one in the chambers of Judge Victoria Kennison.
If Manley hoped to keep her case from public scrutiny, she was fortunate that special prosecutor David Neal moved to dismiss the charges against her in the midst of the two most notorious and highly-publicized murder trials in the history of Will County. The jury in the trial of wife murderer Drew Peterson already had heard two weeks of testimony; jury selection for quadruple-killer Christopher Vaughn started the same day Manley’s case was dropped.
Speaking publicly about the matter for the first time since her case was dismissed in August, Manley said she did not receive preferential treatment during her time in the Will County court system.
“If you think I got special treatment, it didn’t feel like it,” said Manley, who spent more than a day in jail following her arrest.
“I think protocol was followed to the letter,” she said.
Special prosecutor Neal thinks so as well.
Neal, a member of the Special Prosecution Unit of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's office, was assigned to Manley’s case after Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow raised the issue of a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety. Specifically, Glasgow said Manley is "acquainted with a number of staff members at the state's attorney's office."
Manley is also in the midst of campaigning for the newly created 98th House District, which includes portions of Joliet, Bolingbrook, Romeoville, Plainfield and Crest Hill. And the alleged victim, Bridgette Manley, was at the time an employee of the Will County Circuit Clerk.
Neal noted that his office was appointed so early in the case that domestic battery charges had not yet been filed. And they never would be.
“I spoke with the victim of the alleged offense, who is a family member, and I spoke with the attorney for Ms. Manley,” Neal said. “We made a determination that it would not be appropriate to file charges.”
Neal said it is not unusual for prosecutors to decide not to bring charges in a case after getting a chance to look into the matter themselves.
“A lot of time, we get involved in the investigation phase or the decision to charge,” he said.
Natalie Manley told Patch she does not know what her daughter said that convinced Neal to ask for the case to be dismissed. She declined to discuss how her daughter now feels about the May incident.
“Commenting on that would further invade our privacy and impede any progress we’re making,” she said. “Given that no charges were filed and the case was dismissed, this remains a private family matter and we’re working through all this.”
She did say her daughter no longer lives with her.
Neal maintained that the circumstances guiding his decision to dismiss the case against Natalie Manley are “not unusual.”
“It’s really not unusual for a family member to work out differences without taking advantage of the court system,” he said.