Attorney wants stay in case against Tom Lakin lifted

Ann Knef Aug. 30, 2011, 7:29am

Tom Lakin

East Alton attorney Ed Unsell has filed a motion to lift a stay on a civil lawsuit pending against L. Thomas Lakin that accuses Lakin of sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy.

The five-year-old case was stayed in 2007 pending the outcome of federal and state criminal investigations involving Lakin.

Lakin pleaded guilty in October 2008 to possessing and distributing cocaine to a person under 21 and to maintaining a drug-involved premises, in exchange for federal prosecutors dropping sex charges that carried a sentence of life in prison. He was sentenced to six years in prison on the drug charges.

Illinois Appellate Prosecutor Charles Colburn was appointed in 2006 to investigate allegations against Lakin. Colburn was brought in after former Madison County State's Attorney, and current circuit judge, Bill Mudge, cited a conflict of interest and recused himself from the matter.

In the past three years since the federal case against Lakin concluded, Colburn has been contacted regularly for comment. He has maintained a "no comment" position, but has said the investigation was still open.

On Tuesday morning, Colburn said, "There is nothing I can tell you today. But, I would say there has been some activity."

Both the state and federal investigations of Lakin were launched due to allegations made in Unsell's civil lawsuit originally filed under seal in Madison County. The case was later transferred to St. Clair County where it remains.

The lawsuit generally accuses Lakin of engaging in child sexual abuse against three unnamed plaintiffs. Among other things, it accuses Lakin of transporting a boy to Malibu, Calif. with the intent to engage in sexual activity.

The suit also names Brad Lakin, L. Thomas Lakin's son and president of LakinChapman, and another son Kristopher Lakin, alleging they attempted to conceal evidence of abuse. The Lakin Law Firm (renamed LakinChapman) is also named as a defendant.

Lakin, 71, founded the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, which became a renowned class action and personal injury firm.

He is scheduled to be released from Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, a low security institution housing male offenders, on Nov. 30, 2012. That would mean Lakin would only serve a little more than four years in prison.

"The State of Illinois has exhibited absolutely no indication, other than superfluous verbiage of their intention to prosecute Lowell Thomas Lakin," states the motion to lift the stay.

"The Plaintiffs have been prejudiced by not being allowed to proceed against Defendant Lakin and will continue to be prejudiced as long as the stay is in effect."

The motion further requests that a hearing be set.

Thomas Q. Keefe, Jr. of Swansea also represents the plaintiffs in the civil case.

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