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Digging Deeper: Abuse survivor feels justice system failed her twice

Henry County, Ill. (WEEK) – A Kewanee man is set to appear in court Thursday on battery charges.

Brian Washburn was already on probation for beating his then-girlfriend in 2016. Then allegations of a recent bar fight landed him back in court where he again ended up with probation. Now his ex girlfriend is speaking out.

Emily Meeks says the justice system has failed her twice after a Tazewell County jury convicted Washburn of two felonies in April of 2018 and the judge only sentenced him to 24 months of probation.

“This has nothing to deal with me except for the fact that a man beat me driving 57 miles in my car.”

Meeks says she is telling her story to try and stop Brian Washburn from doing this to someone else.

“This is me after surgeries. I’ve had two jaw surgeries so far and I’m not done yet. They say they’re going to need to re-operate,” said Meeks.

Washburn’s defense attorney admits his client violated probation in the 2016 assault case, but he says his problems stemmed from alcohol abuse. That is something the judge in the latest probation violation hearing agreed with.

“The judge determined that it wasn’t appropriate to send him to prison for technical violations of probation, being essentially missing some AA meetings, drinking one beer and going into a bar,” said Joseph Borsberry.

But Meeks feels the wrong decision was made because the state was pushing for a seven-year prison sentence. This was the second time Judge Michael Risinger gave Washburn probation.

According to Meeks, the judge felt her ex-boyfriend was making progress on alcohol treatments.

“He totally failed me as the victim. I mean he has no remorse at all,” said Meeks.

We have asked the Henry County Assistant State’s Attorney to comment on the most recent case but have not heard back at this time.

On May 23, Washburn was at the End Zone Sports Bar with Amanda Feltner. That night, he allegedly shoved one man and choked another leading to the aggravated battery charge.

25 News has requested the crime report and police body camera footage from that night. We are also trying to get access to surveillance video from the bar.

“I looked at that video and didn’t see any crime. I saw that he was victimized trying to leave this establishment in Kewanee,” said Borsberry.

Washburn’s defense attorney in his probation violation case says he doesn’t know why Washburn was charged for the altercation at the End Zone. Regardless, Washburn is still facing a Class 3 Felony for aggravated battery at a public place and a Class A Misdemeanor for battery and physical contact.

Washburn will appear for a pre-trial hearing Thursday afternoon at the Henry County courthouse in Cambridge.

Mike Miletich

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