Cyberbullying is a hot-button issue in schools nationwide.
But WGN Investigates found it’s also happening to certain officials in Calumet City. And no one knows who’s to blame.
The harassment occurs via text messages, blasted out to voters across the south suburb. Three officials are in the crosshairs: Clerk Nyota Figgs, Alderman James Patton and Alderman Monet Wilson
The scope extends far beyond politics.
One message falsely stated Patton’s family participated in racially motivated attacks.
Another mocked the physical appearance of Wilson and her children, while another listed names of 17 men that Figgs allegedly slept with.
“No one has been held accountable,” Figgs says.
That’s because the texts are sent from unlisted numbers that can’t be traced.
“They’re either Google voice numbers or some type of robo-text number,” Wilson says.
As for the texter’s motivation, the officials believe it’s politics.
The three officials routinely clash with Thaddeus Jones, the mayor of Calumet City who doubles as a Democratic state representative.
In Wilson’s case, she says she wasn’t targeted by the texter until announcing she would run against Jones in the upcoming Democratic primary, for the 29th District state representative seat.
However, she and Patton and Figgs acknowledge they have no evidence tying Jones or his allies to the messages. And he denies any involvement.
“These messages are deplorable,” Jones says. “They’re despicable. I don’t condone them.”
But he’s not buying the officials’ story, either. He tells WGN Investigates he believes they could’ve sent the messages themselves to drum up support and weaken his political standing.
Jones, though, has no proof of that, either.
It’s possible the texter’s identity will remain a secret.
But the officials say they won’t remain quiet and called on the Illinois Attorney General’s office to investigate. No word on whether that will happen but Figgs believes it’s the only way it will stop.
“I don’t think anyone believes the text messages, but we also have to experience them,” she says. “And the emotions behind them are very hurtful. Damaging. And should not be allowed.”