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Taxpayers paid for 7 business trips taken by then-Supt. Eddie Johnson and female Chicago cop now suing him for sexual assault

Cynthia Donald, the former superintendent’s driver, says in a lawsuit against Johnson that he forced her to have sex in his hotel rooms. Johnson denies her allegations of sexual assault and harassment. Twice in Springfield, the two had adjacent rooms, according to city travel records.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Former Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

While he was Chicago’s police superintendent, Eddie Johnson went on at least seven out-of-town taxpayer-funded business trips with his female bodyguard who’s now accusing him of sexual assault, according to city travel records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

Johnson and Officer Cynthia Donald traveled to New Orleans, Peoria and Springfield between 2016 and 2019, spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer money on their trips, sometimes with adjacent hotel rooms, according to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Johnson, 60, was demoted by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and retired last year after she said he lied about an incident in which he was found slumped in his car near his Bridgeport home. He’d been drinking for hours with Donald at a downtown bar, officials say.

Donald sued Johnson late Wednesday, contending he forced her to have sex — in his office and on work-related trips. Johnson released a statement Thursday saying “the allegations of sexual assault and harassment made by Ms. Donald never happened.”

Chicago Police Officer Cynthia Donald.
Chicago Police Officer Cynthia Donald.
Pat Nabong / Sun-Times

Donald, 45, became a Chicago police officer in 2006. Johnson found her attractive and arranged to have her transferred to his security detail in 2016, according to her lawsuit. Six months later, she became his personal driver.

City travel records show Johnson and Donald traveled to Springfield together five times, including for the signing of a gun-control bill in June 2017 and in February 2018 when Johnson testified in support of gun-control legislation named in honor of slain Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer. Johnson and Donald had adjacent rooms in the Wyndham Springfield City Centre on both of those trips, records show.

The Wyndham Springfield City Centre, formerly a Hilton, towers above other Springfield buildings.
The 30-story Wyndham Springfield City Centre, formerly a Hilton, towers above other Springfield buildings.
AP file photo

In 2018, Johnson and Donald traveled to a police ethics conference in New Orleans and stayed on the same floor of the Hotel Indigo in the Garden District, records show.

Multiple times, Johnson ordered Donald to come into his room for sex, her lawsuit said.

“On occasions during these work-related trips that [Donald] was able to avoid Superintendent Johnson’s sexual advances, Superintendent Johnson would tell [her] that she ‘got away this time,’ ” the lawsuit said.

Johnson and his wife, Nakia Fenner, a lieutenant in the Chicago Police Department, traveled together to a police meeting in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2018, records also show.

The travel records also show that during two police conferences in California, Johnson rented luxury cars — an Infiniti QX60 in 2016 and a BMW 330i in 2018. The cars cost hundreds of dollars more than Johnson was budgeted to spend with his city traveling allowance, the records show. He drove each car less than 60 miles.

City budget officials made Johnson pay for the upgrade to the Infiniti, but it’s unclear from the records whether the city paid the full $530 tab for the BMW. Johnson rented both cars through Avis’ “Cool Cars” program.

Johnson hasn’t been charged with any criminal wrongdoing in connection with Donald’s allegations or his out-of-town expenses.

But for similar activity, officials in Nashville did face criminal charges.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigned in 2018 after she pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the city while having an extramarital affair with her police bodyguard. The bodyguard, a Nashville police sergeant, pleaded guilty to the same felony theft charge and retired.

An investigation found they engaged in a relationship while on city-paid trips. Barry and the bodyguard agreed to pay the city back for unlawful expenses. The mayor agreed to pay $11,000 and the bodyguard $45,000 for salary and overtime he received while not performing his official duties.