Questions mount over Madison County sexual assault case

Steve Gonzalez May 12, 2006, 3:41am

Days after a secretive Madison County civil sexual assault complaint was dismissed, expunged and then preserved by the court, curiosity about the matter has hardly subsided.

Demand for information about the April 21 lawsuit filed under seal by plaintiffs Jane Roe, et. al. v. John Roe continues to mount by reporters and the public.

While the identity of the parties cannot be confirmed at this time, several sources tell The Record that the defendant is a person who is a household name in the legal community, but not a current or former judge.

Interest in the case peaked Thursdsay as reporters believed the case would be refiled, only this time not under seal and not under pseudonyms. It was not refiled as of Thursday.

A spokesman for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission said the "Himmel Rule," requires that attorneys who have knowledge of another attorney's questionable fitness, such as criminal conduct, are obligated to report the attorney in question to the ARDC.

"Knowledge," said James Grogan, "is defined as more than mere suspicion but not absolute certainty."

On Tuesday, Madison County Associate Circuit Judge Ralph Mendelsohn ordered the Madison County Circuit Clerk's office to preserve the expunged sexual assault civil case while a daily newspaper continues to fight a legal battle to gain access to the sealed file.

The Belleville News-Democrat asked the court not to destroy case number 06L365 on May 5, the same day Circuit Judge Daniel Stack ordered it to be dismissed and expunged at the request of the plaintiffs in the case.

Former Madison County Chief Judge Edward Ferguson allowed the lawsuit filed by fictitious named plaintiffs and defendants to be sealed.

Belleville News-Democrat attorney Joseph Martineau of Lewis, Rice and Fingersh of St. Louis told Mendelsohn at the hearing that the clerk's office would not let him file as a third-party to the case, so he started a new and separate proceeding regarding the original case.

Once Mendelsohn realized Martineau was asking for an order directing the circuit clerk's office to do "something," Mendelsohn ruled that the office had the right to consult with its lawyers before the case could proceed and recessed the hearing.

When the hearing resumed, John Maguire, chief deputy in the Madison County State's Attorney Civil Division, entered his appearance as counsel for the clerk's office. Both sides had the proposed order ready for Mendelsohn to sign.

Martineau said he plans to file a formal application for intervention and motion to rescind the order closing and impounding the file.

If the identities of parties were known, "heads would spin," remarked an officer of the court bound by ethics from revealing anything more in an interview with The Record.

According to Judge Stack, the plaintiffs in the case were John Doe, by his mother and friend, Julie Doe, Joseph Doe, Jane Doe, by her mother and friend, Julie Doe, Mary Doe and James Doe.

Defendants' were John Roe, John Roe, II, John Roe, III, and John Roe IV.

No other hearings are scheduled at this time.

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Belleville News-Democrat
120 S Illinois St
Belleville, IL 62220-2130

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