Bed & breakfast handed over to couple that were refused service, owed $81,000 in legal fees

News

Property to be put up for public sale; Wathens may bid outstanding balance

PAXTON, Ill. (WCIA) — The owner of a Ford County business has been ordered to hand over his property to a couple he once refused to serve because he didn’t pay up after being sued for discrimination.

In a court motion filed Monday, Walder Vacuflo, Inc. was instructed to turn over the TimberCreek Bed and Breakfast to Todd and Mark Wathen within 14 days for sale. The document states the Wathens are authorized to sell the property at a public sale, with proceeds to be applied to the outstanding judgment balance of $81,218.

The couple may also bid all or part of that outstanding balance they are owed at the public sale, according to the court order. Then, they must provide a report of the sale once it has concluded.

Jason Craddock, representing Walder Vaculfo, Inc., had asked the court for more time to respond to the motion for turnover of real property; his request was denied.

The Wathens contacted the ACLU and sued the business in 2011 after they were told they couldn’t host their civil union at TimberCreek because they are gay. The couple also received unsolicited advice from the business.

In 2015, the Illinois Human Rights Commission ordered Walder Vacuflo, Inc. to pay a judgment of $81,218.

“My client’s right to practice his faith was severely violated, and we will continue to fight this every step of the way,” Craddock said Tuesday in an email to WCIA.

Ed Yohnka, Communications Director for the ACLU of Illinois, said Tuesday the court-ordered property sale could have been avoided a long time ago. He added it could be avoided now if the defendants pay the Wathens what they are owed for violating their rights.

“Violating someone’s rights in Illinois has to have consequences,” he said. “What the owner has attempted to do is engage in activities that violated the rights of the Wathens.”

The State of Illinois says sexual orientation is a protected class under the Illinois Human Rights Act.

Yohnka said at the end of the day, it’s about accountability.

“We would have preferred to wrap this up years ago when the judgment was made,” he said. “This is literally a case that has come out of the Wathen’s attempt to schedule their civil union ceremony. We are years beyond that.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.