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State

Lawsuit filed in woman's toilet drowning

(MCT) — The family of an Ottawa, Ill., woman whose 2006 drowning in a toilet was ruled a homicide last year has filed a civil lawsuit against her husband, a local firefighter, claiming he killed her.

No criminal charges have been filed in Tracy Cusick's death, which her family has said is "eerily similar" to the 2004 bathtub drowning of Kathleen Savio. Former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson is charged with Savio's murder and scheduled to go on trial next month.

Cusick, 32, and her husband, Ottawa firefighter Kenneth Cusick, were having marital problems and were the only adults in their home at the time of her death, her family said. Her husband said he found her with her face floating in the water, police said.

Authorities initially said there were no signs of foul play, but her body was exhumed in 2010 and a second autopsy was performed, which detected injuries to her throat and face. At a LaSalle County coroner's inquest last year, a detective testified that a police investigation found it would have been impossible for Cusick to drown in the toilet "without a second party exerting some outside force." A coroner's jury ruled that her death was a homicide.

Supporters of Kenneth Cusick have previously said that only one side of the story has been publicized, noting that his wife had drug and alcohol problems. The county coroner has said all relevant details were shared at the inquest, which did not include any mention of the toxicology reports. Kenneth Cusick could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in LaSalle County by Tracy Cusick's sister Katrina Gibbons claims Kenneth Cusick "forced Tracy's head into a toilet bowl until she died." It also claims he failed to provide first aid to his wife and misled authorities investigating her death. The suit seeks unspecified damages from Kenneth Cusick.

"We chose to do this to get justice or to point us in the right way for justice because nothing has been done," Gibbons said. "The final result we're hoping for is that there will be a criminal trial."

Cory McGinn, the family's attorney, said he met with the LaSalle County state's attorney several weeks ago to make sure the civil case didn't interfere with any criminal case, but he didn't get the sense that any charges would be filed soon.

Family members felt the lawsuit "was their last option to pursue when they didn't think the state's attorney would be pursuing it," he said.

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