State police search office of Madigan during probe
Records sought as former state lawmaker accused of sexually harassing employee
Illinois State Police on Wednesday executed a search warrant at the Capitol offices of Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan as part of an ongoing investigation into a former state lawmaker suspected of sexual misconduct.
The state police investigation stems from a November 2018 complaint that alleged a former Illinois state representative sexually harassed an employee, according to a news release from Madigan’s office. The search warrant, which Madigan’s office released to the Tribune in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, identifies the former lawmaker as Democratic McHenry County Board Chairman Jack Franks.
The warrant alleges Franks is suspected of sex crimes, stalking, battery and official misconduct. Franks denied any wrongdoing to the Chicago Sun-Times, which first reported the investigation, and said he “was unaware of the search warrant and has not been notified by ‘anyone about any matter,’” according to the newspaper.
Franks, of Marengo, did not respond to several messages the Tribune left seeking comment.
“After receiving a report of alleged sexual harassment, my office immediately took steps to protect the alleged victim and conducted an investigation,” Madigan said in a statement.
Three months after receiving the initial complaint, Madigan’s office concluded the allegations were credible, the release said. His office then took additional steps to protect the alleged victim and barred the former lawmaker from entering the Capitol without a security escort, the release said.
On Jan. 24, five days before the search warrant was executed, Illinois State Police contacted Madigan’s office to request its investigation records, the release said. A Sangamon County judge signed the search warrant Wednesday afternoon, the same day Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker gave his State of the State speech.
State police executed the search warrant at Madigan’s office to “expedite receipt of documents,” and the sought-after documents were immediately handed over to the authorities, the release said.
Madigan’s office has been under scrutiny stemming from #MeToo related scandals at the Capitol, and the speaker has split with several aides and longtime allies as a result. Madigan also has admitted he failed to do enough to address the culture of sexual harassment at the Capitol.
Last August, an outside investigation into Madigan’s office and the Democratic caucus he controls found people across the Capitol repeatedly faced sexual harassment and bullying, and feared retaliation if they spoke out. Pritzker last year signed into law sweeping sexual harassment legislation that extends protections against harassment and discrimination to public- and private-sector workplaces statewide.
Franks was a member of the Illinois House from 1999 to 2017 and is currently the McHenry County Board chairman.
In his statement Friday, Madigan said his office has “taken significant steps” for people to file sexual harassment complaints.
“I remain committed to better protecting employees and ensuring a safe and supportive workplace for all,” Madigan said.