Atty for daughter suspected of beating rep mom's opponent: 'Maybe it's good he lost the race'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois Rep. Cynthia Soto's daughter and another campaign volunteer are accused of attacking aspiring politician Robert Zwolinski, who ran against Soto in the Democratic primary this week.

Jessica Soto and Bradley Fichter, both 26, are each charged with three felony counts of aggravated battery in connection with the assault on the 30-year-old man.

On Friday, a Cook County judge set bail for Soto and Fichter at $25,000 each. They need to post 10 percent, or $2,500 each, to be released.

The suspects' attorney, Frank Avila, said his clients were volunteers for Cynthia Soto's re-election campaign and that Jessica Soto is the incumbent's daughter.

Illinois Rep. Cynthia Soto's daughter and another campaign volunteer are accused of attacking aspiring politician Robert Zwolinski.

Police said Zwolinski was attacked outside his campaign office in the 800-block of North Ashland Avenue around 9:15 p.m. on March 6.

"If he's going around saying a girl beat him up, that's really sad too, especially a little 5'2" girl. Maybe it's good that he lost the race," Avila said

Zwolinski said he saw Jessica Soto and Fichter were putting up signs near his office. All sides agree Zwolinski got out of his car, exchanged words and pulled down Jessica Soto's signs. Prosecutors say Fichter punched Zwolinski, and Jessica Soto squeezed his genitals, stapled his forehead, kicked him, and struck him with a bottle.

"She really just started going after me on my back right shoulder, aggressively. That turned him immediately into just punching, punching, punching, punching, punching," Zwolinski said.

Zwolinski said he suffered a staple to the head and a broken nose.

A candidate for Illinois House says he was attacked by a man and a woman outside his campaign office. But they tell a different story.

Zwolinski was running for the Illinois House seat held by Cynthia Soto. She won Tuesday's primary.

Zwolinski said he can't believe Soto's daughter was charged.

"We were under the assumption it was a family. But that close? That was the bombshell," Zwolinski said.

Avila said in a statement that Zwolinski started the fight and his clients are innocent.

"Mr. Zwolinski was the aggressor. I'm not sure why police aren't asking why Mr. Zwolinski got out of the car. And Jessica Soto was not in the altercation," Avila said. "This is politics at its finest. Even though the mother is a state representative, they're harming her because she is an elected official and she won. This is a disgrace. This is a tragedy, and we'll make sure we get these charges dropped."

Fichter filed his own police report, but he was charged with false report of offense.

Fichter and Jessica Soto were arrested Wednesday. Both were charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery in a public place. They are due in bond court Friday.

Zwolinski said this experience will not deter him from politics - he wants to run for State Rep. Soto's seat again.

ABC7 reached out to Soto and her office for comment. Her representative said he is looking into the matter and that Cynthia Soto is on a leave of absence.
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