State po­lice search of­fice of Madi­gan dur­ing probe

Records sought as for­mer state law­maker ac­cused of sex­u­ally ha­rass­ing em­ployee

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAN­D - BY JAVONTE AN­DER­SON

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.

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