Stay lifted in case against Lakin
Proceedings in a civil suit accusing Tom Lakin of sexual abuse will resume without objection. On Dec. 5, Tom Lakin and his sons Brad and Kristopher, co-defendants in the case, agreed with a family calling itself the Does to lift a stay that former St. Clair County Associate Judge James Radcliffe imposed in 2007. Current Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson canceled a hearing on a motion from the Does to lift the stay, and set a management conference for Feb. 21. East Alton attorney Ed Unsell sued the Lakins and the family law firm in 2006, on behalf of clients John Doe, Jane Doe, Joseph Doe and Mary Doe. In addition to abuse, they alleged harassment and conspiracy. Radcliffe stayed the case to avoid a conflict with special state prosecutors investigating Tom Lakin on charges of criminal sexual abuse. Tom Lakin had already pleaded guilty of cocaine distribution in federal court and had started a prison sentence set to end next November. State prosecutors, who led the sexual abuse investigation after former Madison County state's attorney Bill Mudge recused himself, didn't prepare charges for four years. This September, Unsell moved to lift the stay. "The state of Illinois has exhibited absolutely no indication, other than superfluous verbiage, of their intention to prosecute Lowell Thomas Lakin," he wrote. On Oct. 6, he issued subpoenas for special prosecutors Charles Colburn and Patrick Delfino of Springfield to testify at a hearing on Dec. 5. On Oct. 24, Colburn announced that he and Lakin reached a plea agreement. Lakin returned to Edwardsville on Oct. 25, and Circuit Judge Charles Romani told him evidence was sufficient to find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Romani identified the victim as Tyler Zeller, now an adult, and son of former Lakin employee Sandra Zeller. Lakin didn't plead guilty, but he stipulated that he committed the crime. He agreed to register as a sex offender upon release from prison. Radcliffe had retired meanwhile, and Chief Judge John Baricevic assigned Gleeson. Unsell didn't pursue the subpoenas to bring Colburn and Delfine to the hearing, and he didn't need a hearing. Gleeson accepted the agreement and wrote that his ruling wasn't substantive. That leaves a door open for either side to remove him from the case. In Illinois, any party can move once to substitute a judge without cause, if the judge hasn't made a substantive ruling. A motion for a second substitution must provide good cause.