Long-time East St. Louis-area attorney Rex Carr has withdrawn from defending a civil lawsuit that six years ago launched an investigation that led to the conviction of once powerful attorney Thomas Lakin.

Carr, 86, said over the telephone on Tuesday that he no longer has time to try such a complicated case.

St. Clair Circuit Judge Lloyd Cueto on Sept. 6 granted Carr's request to withdraw from the civil sexual assault case that ultimately led to Lakin's federal conviction on drug charges.

In a letter dated Aug. 6 to Cueto, plaintiff's attorney Ed Unsell said he did not object to mediation and would like to set it as soon as practical.

Unsell sued Lakin in Madison County in 2006, claiming his 15-year-old client was sexually abused by Thomas Lakin. The case was eventually was transferred to St. Clair County because of Lakin's close ties to the legal community in Madison County.

In a Sept. 6 order, Cueto ordered the parties to appear in his courtroom on Oct. 16 for mediation. He also set a further status conference for Dec. 3.

Lakin founded the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, which became a renowned class action and personal injury firm. It was renamed LakinChapman in 2009, and then to SL Chapman in January of this year.

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

The civil lawsuit was put on hold during the federal investigation, and while a special prosecutor for three years considered bringing criminal charges against Lakin in state court.

On Oct. 25, 2011, Lakin admitted in court that he committed sexual abuse on a 15 year old boy, and he confirmed a plea agreement requiring him to register as a sex offender when he completes a prison sentence on cocaine distribution charges.

Lakin did not plead guilty, but he submitted a stipulation of facts similar to a guilty plea at a hearing on Oct. 25.

He accepted a six year sentence that will run concurrently with a six year sentence he currently serves at a federal prison in Texas.

He is set to be released from Fort Worth Federal Correctional Institution in Texas, a low security institution housing male offenders, on Nov. 30, 2013.

The case number is 06-L-363.

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