Prosecutor dismisses charges of candy theft

Scott Gordon

Prosecutor dismisses charges of candy theft

By Scott Gordon

The Daily Northwestern

Prosecutors agreed Wednesday to dismiss charges against a Northwestern student who was arrested earlier this month after eating two or three pieces of candy from an Evanston convenience store.

Alison T. Baenen, who was arrested in connection with a retail theft of 41 cents worth of candy, was cleared of charges during a hearing Wednesday at Circuit Court in Skokie.

“Based on the reactions of the police and everyone I encountered who thought the charges were ridiculous, I was pretty confident, but by no means assured of the fact that I was going to get off,” Baenen, a Weinberg senior, said Wednesday afternoon.

Baenen, 21, was arrested and charged with retail theft from White Hen Pantry, 817 Emerson St., just after midnight on May 2. Baenan said she was filling up a candy bag from one of the bins and ate a few pieces of candy in the process.

A cashier at the store, 817 Emerson St., told Baenen to stop eating the candy and then called the police.

Baenen said she apologized to the cashier at the time of the incident and offered to pay for the candy she had eaten.

The arresting officer offered to have her pay for the candy and never return to the store, but the cashier insisted on filing a criminal complaint, Cmdr. Joe Bellino of EPD said earlier this month.

The cashier has since stopped working at White Hen, said store manager Peter Mueller. Mueller didn’t say whether the employee quit or was fired.

Mueller said he had attended Baenen’s hearing and agreed to drop the charges.

“I’m happy with the decision,” he said.

Brian Shields, Baenen’s lawyer, said he spoke with prosecutors, who agreed to dismiss the case. Shields said the charges against Baenen were groundless.

“She did not commit the offense of retail theft, and she was willing to pay for the candy that she ate,” Shields said.

Baenen will not face any repercussions from NU either, said Alan Cubbage, vice president for university relations.

“This was a confluence of unfortunate circumstances,” Cubbage said. “(The incident) has no effect on this student’s career at Northwestern.”

Cubbage said administrators in the Office of Student Affairs had been in contact with Baenen to offer her support.

Baenen said Wednesday that she’s received a lot of support from students who were “offended on my behalf” after the arrest.

“I’ve gotten e-mails from people I’ve never met telling me they’re boycotting the White Hen,” she said.