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Carlock Mayor Arrested, But Not Charged, In Domestic Dispute

Jeremiah Houston

Carlock Mayor Jeremiah Houston said Friday he won’t comment on his arrest earlier this year on domestic battery charges—including an allegation that he told his wife that there was no use calling the police because he was the mayor.

Houston was arrested Feb. 19 at his home in Carlock following a dispute with his wife, records show. He spent the night at the McLean County jail and was released the next day. Prosecutors declined to file formal charges against him, saying the case could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Houston declined to respond to several questions when reached by GLT early Friday.

“I request privacy for my family,” Houston said.

Someone called the police around 9 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, after hearing a domestic dispute inside Houston’s home. Houston’s wife told police that they were exchanging verbal and physical strikes until “Jeremiah held her up against the wall and she could not move,” according to a McLean County sheriff’s police report obtained by GLT. Houston allegedly grabbed her by the face and neck and bit her hand twice. A sheriff’s deputy on scene described him as the “primary aggressor.”

Danvers Police Chief Mike Kemp was the first on scene, records show. Houston’s wife reportedly told him “Jeremiah advised there was no sense in (her) calling the police because they would not do anything with Jeremiah being the mayor.” Houston declined to comment on that alleged remark during a brief interview with GLT.

Ultimately, the McLean County sheriff’s department took over the case because of Kemp’s conflict of interest. The Danvers Police Department provides service to Carlock, where Houston is mayor.

Houston was never formally charged. McLean County Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Koll said her office agreed with the arrest but there was “not enough to charge.” It was not clear beyond a reasonable doubt who was the primary aggressor in the case, Koll added.

About Our Reporting

“They definitely had probable cause for an arrest,” Koll said. “It was a good arrest.”

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was notified of the incident because children were home when it happened, records show. DCFS confirmed the contact.

“For privacy reasons, I am not allowed to share anything else related to our subsequent contact with the family,” said DCFS spokesperson Jassen Strokosch.

Houston was elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2017. He is up for re-election in 2021. In March 2018 he ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for McLean County Board District 1. Gerald Thompson beat him and eventually won the seat last November. 

The Village of Carlock (population 552), located northwest of Bloomington-Normal, is run by the village president, a clerk, a treasurer, and six trustees. 

Houston confirmed to GLT he notified the village’s attorney about his arrest. Trustees Ryan Eaves and Isaac Judd said they had not heard about the incident. 

Trustee Rhonda Baer said she had about it indirectly through small-town gossip. She said she heard no charges were filed and that the Carlock Village Board has not formally discussed the situation. 

Houston has no past criminal record in McLean County.


Why we’re doing this story

GLT does not typically publish stories about domestic disputes, and we do not regularly cover small towns like the Village of Carlock. However, it’s important for the public to have trust in their elected officials. Public officials are held to a higher standard for conduct, especially when they’re caught up in the criminal justice system. Houston’s arrest is newsworthy.

How we reported this story

GLT obtained police reports and jail records from the McLean County sheriff’s department through a Freedom of Information Act request. That reporting was augmented with interviews with Houston himself, a prosecutor, and Carlock trustees. This story is being reported unusually late—three months after the original incident. That’s because GLT only recently became aware of the arrest.

How we did it fairly

We waited to publish the story until Houston had a chance to comment on the incident. Several parts of the police report were not quoted out of respect for the family’s privacy.

People like you value experienced, knowledgeable and award-winning journalism that covers meaningful stories in Bloomington-Normal. To support more stories and interviews like this one, please consider making a contribution.

Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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