Skinheads who attacked kids sued in federal court

Chicago Sun Times/August 28, 2004
By Natasha Korecki

Three Lake County skinheads were convicted of attacking three African-American siblings in Fox Lake last year -- but the victims' family says it isn't finished in court.

Phyllis Williams and Jimmy Gilmore, parents of the children, have filed a civil suit against the convicted attackers in federal court.

Harley Hermes, Michael Canlas and Shaun Derifield all pleaded guilty to charges in 2003 and are serving prison time.

The skinheads taunted and chased Deona, Tywon and Jewon Williams as they left a football game in Fox Lake. At one point, Deona was trapped against a car, a knife held to her throat. She pleaded with them not to kill her, according to signed plea agreements.

Derifield was accused of shouting, "Get out of our town. This is our town. We're going to kill you n------."

The lawsuit, filed Friday, seeks compensatory and punitive damages, and says the family suffered loss of civil rights, embarrassment, humiliation and fear.

Betsy Shuman-Moore, one of the attorneys in the case, said the Williams-Gilmore family is now suing to "vindicate their rights through all legal means available."

Shuman-Moore said the victims still carry the pain inflicted on them in the attack.

"It's just been a devastating experience for them," she said.

Last year, Phyllis Williams testified in court that her daughter's grades plummeted after the attack, she started hating high school and that she had "encountered several other problems."

Derifield tried to apologize in court, saying he had renounced his racist views and planned to remove two swastikas he has tattooed on his body.

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