James Barkemeyer, mayor of Bannockburn for more than seven years, stepped down unexpectedly Friday. The resignation comes amid a Wilmette police investigation into allegations that he had inappropriate sexual contact with teenage employees at his Wilmette hardware store in the early 1990s.
In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Pioneer Press, Wilmette Police released (reader discretion advised – this document contains graphic descriptions of a sexual nature) a heavily redacted copy of an Aug. 19 report on the investigation. In the report, police state that Barkemeyer, now 57, told detectives Aug. 18 that he had brief sexual contacts with two teenage boys while they were employed at his family’s business, Linden True Value Hardware.
Police said Barkemeyer told them he believed the boys to be between 15 and 17 years old at the time.
Barkemeyer did not return messages seeking comment.
The investigation was initiated on May 17, when a 36-year-old man reported that between 1991 and 1995, he was molested by one of the owners of the business when he was a teenage employee between the ages of 14 and 18. The man described acts of criminal sexual conduct committed by one of the owners.
Investigators located and interviewed numerous former teenage male employees of the store. One other former teenage employee told Investigators that this same owner committed an act of criminal sexual conduct to him in the store while he was employed there between 1992 and 1996.
According to the report, both Barkemeyer and the former employees who alleged sexual contact said the incidents mostly took place at the store, although both stated that one incident took place at Barkemeyer’s home.
After checking with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s felony review unit, police are not filing charges because the alleged incidents fall outside Illinois’ statute of limitations for criminal prosecution. Victims have between one and five years after the age of 18 to report incidents and have them considered for criminal prosecution.
The report indicates that police began an investigation in May of this year after being contacted by a former store employee. It also indicates that police interviewed multiple former True Value employees. The redactions obscure the specific number of former employees contacted, but the report appears to show that two people told detectives that Barkemeyer had approached them in sexually inappropriate ways, including touch and showing them pornography on a computer.
His resignation, announced without explanation Friday morning by Village Manager Maria Lasday, came after village trustees held an emergency meeting. Trustees appointed Frank “Bud” Rothing to serve as acting president for the rest of Barkemeyer’s term, which ends in May 2015, Lasday said.
Barkemeyer served as village trustee from May 1999 through May 2007, and was elected village president in May 2007.
Wilmette police are asking anyone with information concerning the investigation to contact Detective Clark at the police department, at 847-256-1200.
Lake County News-Sun Correspondent Steve Sadin contributed to this report.