Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) had nothing to say to reporters as he walked out of Domestic Violence Court Thursday after posting bond on his $2,500 bail on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.
His wife, whom police say the veteran alderman struck during an altercation on New Year’s Eve, grudgingly told reporters that the incident was not the first.
“This [has] been going on for a long time. I didn’t come forward sooner because of his public image, and I didn’t want this,” said Betty Torres Munoz, gesturing to the row of reporters, cameras and microphones in front of her car.
“I finally came forward because I need a new life. I can’t go through this anymore,” Munoz’s wife added after saying that the media attention surrounding the case already was like being “victimized twice.”
Munoz, who had been in police custody since he was arrested Wednesday at his Little Village ward office, made appearances at two separate, brief hearings. Led into a bond hearing by a sheriff’s deputy, Munoz kept his hands clasped behind his back and took a long look into a courtroom gallery packed with reporters.
The alderman, who is not running for reelection, pleaded not guilty to the charge and was barred from returning to the home the couple shared. Judge Megan Goldish warned the alderman that “even ‘nice’ contact” with his wife would not be permitted, and asked what entrance he used when he went to City Hall — Munoz’s wife is a Cook County employee who works on the county government side of the building. The alderman was also barred from having contact with his dog Rambo.
After posting bond, the veteran alderman walked out beside his sister, and offered a thin smile as he pushed open the revolving door. Munoz did not answer questions, but said, “we’ll talk tomorrow.”
Betty Torres Munoz had left the court building an hour earlier after she was granted an order of protection, and said the couple’s decades-long relationship had been marred by Munoz’s drinking, infidelity and abuse.
“I’ve been with this man for 34 years, 30 years of marriage, and it hasn’t been perfect dealing with his addiction, everything that goes with it,” she said.
Betty Torres Munoz said she suffers from PTSD because of the abuse and has been hospitalized “numerous” times.
“It’s taken a lot of courage for me to get to this point, to try and diminish the shame of living with an addict, a womanizer,” she said of Munoz, who admitted he had entered in-patient treatment for alcoholism months ahead of his 2011 reelection.
She also said she wishes her husband “the very best.”
“I don’t wish any ill will towards him,” Betty Torres Munoz said.
Sometime on Monday, Munoz was involved in an argument with his wife when he “pushed and struck the victim throughout the body,” police said.
The New Year’s Eve incident is only the latest in a string of controversies to surround Munoz from the outset of his a 25-year City Council career.
In 1993, then-Mayor Richard M. Daley took a chance in backing Munoz, then a 27-year-old with a checkered past.
Munoz was “affiliated” with a gang that terrorized Little Village. He was hanging out on street corners, a self-described “neighborhood thug and hustler.” Three times, Munoz had plead guilty to charges of cocaine possession or unlawful use of a weapon.