Judge to announce decision

By Holly Schubert

DeKalb Circuit Court Judge Douglas Engel will render a decision Tuesday in the bench trial of Robert Morley, the man accused of harassing NIU Judicial Office Director Larry Bolles by telephone.

In closing remarks, First Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Coghlan and Defense Attorney Richard Turner acknowledged that the case has a one-on-one credibility problem because of contradiction in witnesses’ testimonies.

In his testimony, Morley said he called Bolles April 1 to discuss proposed penalties for students involved in the illegal “reg stamp” incident. He testified he mistakenly asked for Everett Bolles, not Reverend Bolles, as Judicial Office Secretary Sharon Scott had testified.

Morley testified it was Bolles who initiated threats. Morley said he feared for his life, so he used the name Robert Buzby.

University Police Officer Albert Ekstrom testified Morley told UP Detective David Wickstrom he “might have used” the name Robert Buzby during the conversation.

Morley also testified he tried unsuccessfully to call Bolles back several more times the afternoon of April 1 to warn Bolles that he was going to notify Bolles’ superior, Jon Dalton, vice president for student affairs, about the threats he said Bolles made toward him.

Morley said he could not reach Dalton to report Bolles’ alleged threats.

In closing remarks, Coghlan said the testimony showed “very clearly” it was Morley’s intent to harass Bolles. Coghlan said Morley asked for “Reverend” Bolles because many black males are reverends. The prosecutor showed the court that Bolles’ picture with his correct name in a caption was included with a Northern Star article about the illegal reg stamp incident that Morley testified he had read prior to the April 1 call.

Coghlan said although Morley testified Bolles began to threaten him three minutes into the call, Morley remained on the phone for one half hour. Coghlan said Bolles had a legitimate reason to stay on the phone because he was gathering evidence.

Turner said Morley called to express concern about treatment of students, and he did not intend to make a harassing phone call. He said Bolles threatened Morley and it was “understandable” that Morley became “hot.”

Turner said Morley has the first amendment right to express views as long as he does not violate the telephone harassment statute.

Coghlan said Sunday he does not view the case that way. “It was a death threat case, not a first amendment case. There is a law that makes it illegal to make harassing phone calls. The evidence brought forth at the trial showed the defendant was guilty of this offense.”

Morley said Saturday he made no threats against Bolles. “I did listen to and argue with Mr. Bolles while he explained his theories about racial superiority of blacks.”

Morley said NIU’s support for minority causes was “almost like a religion for the NIU administration. Anyone who disagrees and calls for equal treatment and opportunity for all is branded a sinner in their eyes.

“Little did I realize how serious they were…. No matter how this turns out, I have learned to be especially cautious with minorities at NIU. I will continue to treat everyone fairly and equally in my daily life and hope for the day when Northern, my school, will do the same,” Morley said.

Harassment by telephone is a Class B misdemeanor. Crimes in this category are usually punishable by up to six months in jail and a $500 fine.