SYCAMORE - On Friday inside Shawn's Coffee Shop in Sycamore, owner Shawn Thrower, charged with biting and inappropriately touching a 15-year-old employee, addressed the protest going on outside amid the girl's allegations and said "there are two sides to every story."
Thrower, 61, also owns Princess Alex Ice Cream in Sycamore and is charged with two counts of misdemeanor battery after police say he bit the girl on her neck, picked her up and smacked her buttocks, according to DeKalb County Court records. Thrower appeared in front of Circuit Court Judge Joseph Pedersen Thursday at the DeKalb County Courthouse for a status hearing, at which time his lawyer, Amanda Wielgus, requested a bench trial, a trial where witnesses are called in front of a judge but no jury presides.
The trial is set for Oct. 15. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail, and fines up to $2,500. He plead not guilty on March 9.
The mother of the victim spoke publicly to the Daily Chronicle, speaking out in the hope that her daughter's story will empower others to use their voice. DeKalb County court records paint a picture of Thrower's behavior, which the 15-year-old girl told police made her uncomfortable. She also said she felt he was showing her favoritism. Court records from Sycamore police interviews with the victim allege Thrower would frequently pick the girl up while hugging her, and text her, calling her "queen," "baby" and "his girl."
The day of the incident, Feb. 27, the girl snuck up on Thrower from behind a refrigerator to scare him, and then he pinned her against one of the mixer tables and started biting her neck while she attempted to push him away. When she wiggled away, Thrower grabbed her and smacked her across the buttocks multiple times, the teen told police.
"Don't ever trust a police report, ever," Thrower said, when asked directly about his actions.
"In America, it used to be you're innocent until proven guilty, so that's the only thing that disturbs me about this whole thing," Thrower said. "People have a right to protest, I understand that, but I just can't wait for it to be over with because it effects the business in a negative way. People don't hear the full story of what's going on."
When asked what the full story was and if he called the teen to apologize, as court records state, Thrower declined to his talk about his case in detail, but said "There's so much more to the story. There's always two sides."
When asked for comment regarding public allegations of similar inappropriate behavior that other young girls under his employ have experienced, Thrower said he doesn't understand.
"I don't get that. The internet does something to people, seriously," he said. "You get on the internet, and just see things you agree with or disagree. But yeah, everybody has their own opinion. I've had people who worked here 7, 8, 9 years and no problem whatsoever. Loved working here. I have girls here working now that are young that love working here."
Thrower said both of his businesses – the coffee shop which opened in 1994 and the ice cream parlor which opened five or six years ago, he said – haven't really suffered much financially as a result of his allegations, which came to light in March, though the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll. The business was patronized several times as protesters stood outside it Friday.
He expressed desire to tell his story when the trial is complete.
"When this is over, you will need two pages," he said. "I want to talk so bad right now because people are only getting one side of the story. And it'll be pretty shocking when everything comes out."