Alberto Friedmann, a professor at the National University of Health Sciences, has resigned after being charged with multiple felonies for allegedly yelling racial slurs and spitting on a Black woman with her child outside of a grocery store.
On Monday, a spokesman for the university where Friedmann taught neurokinesiology told NBC Chicago that he resigned on Friday pending an investigation into his off-campus conduct. His former students were reportedly outraged and wrote letters to school officials and Illinois State Rep. LaShawn Ford about the allegations.
“They sent letters to higher-ups. They are destroyed because they are taught by this person, and their question is what type of person this is,” Ford said, according to NBC.
Here’s what happened outside the Oak Park Jewel Store on Sept. 7, according to the Chicago Tribune:
The woman and her 7-year-old daughter were in a parked car just after 4:30 p.m., waiting for her mother to finish shopping when she heard honking and yelling behind her, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsay Ruedig.
After exiting his car, Friedmann is accused of yelling slurs at the victim and her daughter, Ruedig told the court. When the victim attempted to open her own door, Friedmann allegedly slammed her door shut and spit in her face, telling her he spit “because he does not like Black people,” Ruedig said.
Authorities said the woman’s mother came out of the store just in time to see Friedmann spit on her daughter and shout racial slurs. The Tribune reports the victim attempted to get out of her car a second time to see his license plate and called out for someone to call the police.
More from the Tribune:
Friedmann then allegedly accelerated toward the victim, who moved out of the way and wasn’t struck, Ruedig said. Friedmann’s vehicle struck the woman’s car twice. Eyewitnesses intervened when Friedmann exited his car a second time, and he was later arrested.
Prosecutors noted that there was store surveillance video of the incident but didn’t state what could be seen in the footage.
The Tribune reports that Friedmann was charged with aggravated assault and a hate crime.
Friedmann admitted to spitting on the woman but denied using racial slurs. His attorney, John McNamara, said the incident is not reflective of Friedmann’s nature. “My client vehemently denies using any racial language. It’s our position that it’s fabricated that he used any such language. He’s a minority himself. He’s a child of immigrants,” McNamara told the judge.
The attorney also cited Friedmann’s successful academic track record and that he has Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition that causes flexible limbs and early-onset Parkinson’s disease. The former professor has previously appeared on the Discovery Health Channel to talk about his condition.
McNamara also said that his client’s wife needs round-the-clock care for a debilitating condition.
Judge Susana Ortiz ordered him to be released on $2,500 bail ahead of his scheduled court appearance on Wednesday and barred him from contacting the victims.