Metro

Powerful judge’s son charged in Ill. hate crime

One of the students charged with spray-painting racist, homophobic graffiti and the name of presidential candidate Donald Trump in an Illinois chapel is the son of the chief justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

Matthew Kafker, a Northwestern University freshman, was charged with institutional vandalism, hate crime in a church, and criminal damage to property after defacing the school’s Alice Millar Chapel early Friday morning, authorities said. Along with slurs against African-Americans and gays, a swastika, and a male reproductive organ, Kafker and another freshman, Anthony Morales, spray-painted the word “Trump,” authorities alleged.

Cook County Sheriff
Matthew Kafker allegedly spray-painted racist, homophobic graffiti and the name of Donald Trump in an Illinois chapel.

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker appointed Scott L. Kafker last year to helm the state appeals court, praising the first judicial nominee of his administration as “an esteemed jurist that I am confident has the ability to lead this influential court in its mission of rendering thoughtful, well-reasoned appellate decisions timely and efficiently and treating all those who come before the court fairly and impartially.”

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Instances of hate crimes accompanied by the word “Trump” have escalated as the voluble businessman has surged toward the Republican nomination. After the Massachusetts presidential primary earlier this month, Baker, who had been critical of Trump before, said he would not vote for Trump if he becomes the party’s nominee.

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In an e-mail Monday, Baker spokesman Timothy S. Buckley said that Baker “was shocked to hear of these reports and he believes there is absolutely no place in society for this type of despicable behavior.”

Through a court spokeswoman, Kafker declined to comment.

Northwestern University president Morton Schapiro released a statement: “On behalf of the entire Northwestern community, I express our shock and dismay at the abhorrent act of vandalism committed last night in Alice Millar Chapel in which racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, and other offensive graffiti was spray-painted on walls, offices and even the organ.”

Schapiro told Northwestern faculty, staff, and students that the students had been placed on interim suspension, university officials said.

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Kafker and Morales are due back in court Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state’s attorney said. They were booked at Cook County Jail on Saturday and released on bond the same day.

Baker and Kafker worked together in the Weld administration of the 1990s.

The elder Kafker, who was deputy chief legal counsel to former governor William Weld, was appointed to the appeals court in 2001 by Weld’s successor, Paul Cellucci. Baker nominated him for the top post last June, and he was confirmed weeks later.

Maggie Mulvihill contributed to this report. Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at jim.osullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JOSreports.