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Cop may plead guilty to bar beating

  Court Watch  -   POSTED: 2008/02/15 14:53

The burly Chicago cop whose alleged beating of a female bartender was caught on videotape -- might be ready to plead guilty, his lawyer said Wednesday.

But the alleged victim, Karolina Obrycka, told the Chicago Sun-Times she is still reeling from the attack. "I'm still afraid of big guys," she said.

Abbate, 39, is charged with the Feb. 19, 2007, beating of the 115-pound Obrycka at Jesse's Shortstop Inn on the Northwest Side. Abbate faces up to five years in prison.

"There is a possibility" Abbate will plead guilty, his lawyer Peter Hickey said. "How firm that possibility is, I really don't know.

"The judge is going to make an offer, and it's going to be up to Mr. Abbate to decide if he wants to take it."

Hickey signaled Abbate's interest by requesting a "402 conference," in which prosecutors, defense lawyers and a judge discuss a possible plea deal. After the request, Hickey, prosecutors and Judge John Fleming met for more than an hour.

Though Abbate could get probation, a source with knowledge of the case said any plea deal would involve jail time.

Before the conference, Abbate -- sporting a handlebar mustache -- sat in the back of the courtroom with Hickey signing papers. Hickey later asked Fleming to order a pre-sentence investigation. Abbate will appear in court again March 11.

According to a lawsuit filed by Obrycka, Abbate "erupted into a violent fit" after she refused to serve him because he seemed intoxicated. Security videotape caught Abbate beating Obrycka and gained worldwide attention last year after it was made public.

After the beating, Abbate allegedly threatened Obrycka and others through intermediaries to keep them quiet, prosecutors said. Abbate is charged with aggravated battery in a public place, official misconduct, conspiracy, intimidation, and communicating with a witness.

He has been suspended without pay, said police spokeswoman Monique Bond.

Obrycka said she trusts Fleming to impose the appropriate sentence. Her life has changed since the beating, she said, and last October, she got married. "I still have nightmares, but not as much because my husband is taking care of me," she said.




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