Get to the truth about that ‘rape in Champaign’

An investigation is the only way to determine if this is some sort of twisted metaphor or if real crimes occurred — and if a state worker kept his job because he ‘kept his mouth shut.’

SHARE Get to the truth about that ‘rape in Champaign’
The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

The Illinois State Capitol in Springfield.

AP

It’s one thing for a powerful Springfield insider to go to bat for a state employee because he’s been politically “loyal.”

It’s quite another thing to come to the defense of the employee, who’s in some sort of trouble at work, because he kept quiet about at least two crimes.

Especially when one of those offenses may involve the word “rape.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has launched an investigation into all this, through the state Office of the Executive Inspector General, and it can’t happen fast enough. The genesis is a disturbing 2012 email from a former top lobbyist, Michael McClain, who is a close ally of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

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In the email, directed to two top aides to then-Gov. Pat Quinn, McClain sought leniency for a state administrator who faced discipline for an unspecified job infraction.

“He kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other things,” McClain wrote in the email, first obtained by WBEZ reporters Tony Arnold and Dave McKinney. “He is loyal to the Administration.”

We know Illinois politics are messy, and we’re not shocked that some politician at the highest level might have handed out do-nothing, no-show ghost jobs. But even before the emergence of the #MeToo movement and a rash of allegations about sexual harassment in state government, that single word — rape — should have stopped everybody cold.

What was McClain referring to? We have no idea. Maybe he was using the word “rape” only metaphorically. We can hope.

But we are “appalled and disgusted,” to borrow Pritzker’s words, by what the email suggests.

For his part, Madigan quickly released a statement saying that he knew nothing about the “incident” in the email and calling the allegations “extremely serious and troubling.”

McClain, the two Quinn aides who received his email, and the state administrator in question — who kept his job, and went on to other lucrative work in state government — declined to talk with WBEZ.

The sooner an official investigation gets wrapped up, the better.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com.

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