A woman publicly accused state House Speaker Mike Madigan on Thursday of disregarding a domestic violence complaint made 16 years ago against a candidate the powerful Southwest Side Democrat backed for a seat in the General Assembly.
Liz Hogan says that her father, himself a former state representative, told Madigan in 2002 that Hogan’s ex-boyfriend, state Rep. Robert Rita (D-Blue Island), attacked her in her Evergreen Park home.
“And I told [my father], I go, ‘This issue is not being addressed, it’s not being acknowledged. I need help,'” Hogan told reporters Thursday.
“So he came back and he almost, like with tears in his eyes, he’s like ‘I’m so sorry, but Mike Madigan said he couldn’t do anything about it,” Hogan recalled. “I was just, like, in shock.”
Rita was first elected to the state House in November of 2002, after the charges made headlines. He was acquitted the following year of domestic violence and criminal trespassing charges. He told the Associated Press at that time: “I did not do the horrible acts I was accused of.”
A spokesman for Madigan said the speaker did not recall any meeting with Hogan’s father, former state Rep. Andrew McGann.
“The speaker has no memory of a meeting between him and McGann about Bob Rita,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said. “This apparently happened after the incident, after Rita was charged. So I don’t even know what, if such a meeting happened, what was the expectation?”
Rita issued a statement Thursday, calling the charges false and himself “a champion for women’s issues.”
“More than 15 years ago, a former girlfriend made an accusation against me,” Rita said. “A jury of nine women and three men determined those charges were unfounded, and an order of protection was dismissed.
“The claims were false then and are false today. Since then, I have been a champion for women’s issues in Springfield and in the district, and I have built strong working relationships with many female progressive legislators — standing shoulder to shoulder with them to protect and promote women.”
Hogan’s recounting of the incident came as she announced her support for Mary Carvlin, Rita’s challenger in the March 20 Democratic primary.
Last month, a woman spoke out about unwanted advances from Madigan political aide Kevin Quinn, the brother of Ald. Marty Quinn (13th), a member of Madigan’s political organization. Kevin Quinn had been fired.
Since then another Madigan aide, lobbyist Shaw Decremer, was also fired over allegations of “inappropriate behavior” toward a candidate and staff during the 2016 election.
Madigan has come under fire for his handling of the complaints, but he has resisted increasing calls from some Democrats that he step down as state party chairman.
At a Springfield news conference last month, Madigan said that his office has been there for potential harassment victims and has handled cases “according to protocol.”
“I’m not resigning. I’m moving forward,” he said. “I’m working with this particular issue, and we’re going to work our way through it.”