Ex-gang member's suit claims TV interview led to threats and beatings by gangbangers
| Tribune staff reporter
December 7, 2007
alleged Thursday in a lawsuit that a TV talk show failed to obscure his face as promised during a 2005 interview, prompting former cohorts to label him a "snitch" and beat him.
Richard Sendejas said he agreed to appear on "Rocio," broadcast by Telemundo of Chicago, in September 2005 on the condition that his identifying features would be rendered unrecognizable.
Sendejas, who was 17 at the time, "spoke candidly about topics such as his involvement with the Latin Kings, why teens join street gangs, the meaning behind different hand signals, as well as other questions," said the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.
But when the television program aired in October 2005, "Mr. Sendejas' face and tattoos were not concealed," the lawsuit said. "Many people who knew him still recognized who he was."
About a week later, gang members confronted him and bloodied his nose, the lawsuit said. Other gang members threatened him, his mother and brother and forced him into hiding, the suit alleged.
As a result, Sendejas was unable to attend the YMCA program that had helped him out of gang life in 2004, the lawsuit said.
In January 2006, the program was rebroadcast in Chicago, and Sendejas and his family received threats for the next four months, the suit alleged.
In April 2006, a group of gang members cornered Sendejas in a vacant parking lot and severely beat him, the suit said.
The lawsuit names Telemundo of Chicago, Telemundo Network and related companies as defendants. Telemundo officials could not be reached for comment Thursday on the suit.
The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, negligence, improper public disclosure of private facts and other violations.
Sendejas is seeking more than $550,000 in damages for pain, suffering and other injuries.