Civil case against Lakin on hold in St. Clair County

Amelia Flood Feb. 10, 2010, 9:59am


The civil sexual abuse and conspiracy lawsuit brought against former Wood River attorney Lowell Thomas Lakin, his two sons and his law firm, has not moved in two years.

A stay in the case was put in effect in 2007 while federal authorities investigated Thomas Lakin. He pleaded guilty to drug charges and was sentenced to six years in prison by U.S. District Judge Phil Gilbert in October 2008. Prosecutors dropped charges of sex involving minors as part of Lakin's plea.

He was indicted on seven federal charges including transporting a minor across state lines for illegal sexual activities.

The state of Illinois also is investigating Thomas Lakin. However, Charles Coburn, one of the prosecutors assigned to the matter by the Illinois Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's Agency, told the Madison County Record this week that no date has been set for when the state could file its case.

The St. Clair County civil suit was filed in 2006 by John Doe, his mother, Mary Doe, Joseph Doe, Jane Doe, Julie Doe, her mother, and Mary and James Doe as individuals.

John and Joseph Doe are brothers, according to the complaint. Mary Doe is acting as their mother and next best friend in the case.

Julie Doe is acting in the same capacity for Jane Doe.

The group is suing L. Thomas Lakin, his sons Bradley and Kristopher and the Lakin Law Firm P.C. for 12 counts of sexual abuse, conspiracy and tort of outrage.

The complaint alleges that Thomas Lakin and Kristopher Lakin sexually abused the minors named in the suit. It also contends that Bradley Lakin conspired with his father and brother to destroy evidence and to skirt mandatory sexual abuse reporting laws by having at least one minor plaintiff seek treatment in Canada.

The suit alleges the Lakins and their law firm then threatened to file lawsuits against the plaintiffs, did file lawsuits exposing the plaintiffs' identities and engaged in eviction and car repossession tactics to harass them.

The defendants have denied the charges in their answer and attempted to have several counts of the suit dismissed.

The suit seeks damages of $75,000 in compensatory damages per count, $75,000 in punitive damages per count and costs.

The case was originally filed in Madison County in May 2006, but then transferred to St. Clair County. The case has gone through four St. Clair County judges.

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Robert LeChien was first assigned the case. He recused himself in August 2006.

The next judge to take the case was St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O'Malley. He recused himself from the case the same month.

St. Clair County Associate Judge James Radcliffe III had the case from September 2006 until April 2008. He has since retired.

The case was then assigned by St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic to St. Clair County Associate Judge Michael Cook. That was the last action in the case.

Although Radcliffe granted a request by the defendants to move the case to Madison County, they later withdrew their motions.

L. Thomas Lakin founded the Wood River law firm bearing his name. It is now known as LakinChapman LLC and overseen by his son, Bradley.

The state case was taken over by Coburn at the request of Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge. Mudge's former law firm had represented Lakin in the past and he believed there to be a conflict of interest.

The plaintiffs are represented by Thomas Keefe Jr. of Swansea and Edward Unsell of East Alton.

L. Thomas Lakin is represented by Clyde Kuehn of Belleville.

His sons and the law firm are represented by Rex Carr of East St. Louis.

The St. Clair case is 06-L-363.

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