Delay in Lakin sexual assault investigation inexcusable

The Madison County Record Nov. 28, 2010, 9:49am

Colburn tapped as special prosecutor in Lakin matter

Former Morgan County State's Attorney Charles Colburn has been named special prosecutor to handle a potential criminal sexual assault case against powerful attorney L. Thomas Lakin.--June 16, 2006

The excerpt above is from an article published in the Record more than four years ago. We'd like to provide an update but cannot do so, because there's been no public action in the investigation and the special prosecutor will not discuss it.

There was talk at the time that Lakin might face criminal sexual assault charges. He is, concurrently, the subject of a civil sexual assault complaint pending in St. Clair County on behalf of an underage male.

If justice delayed is justice denied, clearly, it's being denied here.

Lakin pleaded guilty to federal drug charges in 2008 and was sentenced to six years in prison for "distributing cocaine to a person under 21" and "maintaining a drug-involved premises." As part of the plea federal prosecutors dropped sex charges that would have carried a life sentence if proven.

Lakin's lawyer at the time, Scott Rosenblum, said his client would never plead guilty to any sex charges. But just because a federal court has spoken doesn't mean this case is closed. There are state laws against sex crimes, too.

If the claims made against Lakin have no merit, the state case should have been closed long ago. If the claims have merit, the state prosecution should commence.

But, for some unknown reason, it hasn't. And that fact leads, inexorably, to disturbing doubts and ugly speculation such as: (1.) Is Tom Lakin, founder of the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, being given a pass because he's a prominent member of the legal profession in Illinois? (2.) Have political connections been used to delay the investigation? (3.) Do other prominent individuals fear what might come to light if charges are brought? (4.) What has Lakin threatened to say about others if the investigation goes forward?

We could go on in this vein, but, as we said, the speculation is ugly. The point is, Charles Colburn has an obligation to Lakin, his accusers and the citizens of this state to bring this matter to an ethical, fair conclusion and to publicly explain why.

Mr. Colburn repeatedly in the past four years has been asked to explain himself. Why the wait? What's taking so long? We're still waiting for an answer.

There cannot be two standards of justice in Illinois – one for the privileged classes and one for the rest of us.

Charles Colburn holds a position of public trust as special prosecutor and he must account for his apparent inaction.

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