And to quote the late, great Warren Zevon, “It ain’t that pretty at all!”
But that’s going to be the last of my trademark humor here because there’s nothing funny about this. State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, Traffic and Misdemeanor head Joe Cullen, First Assistant Jody Gleason, and Chief Felony Prosecutor Bill Engerman should all be working on their resignation letters as we speak.
C’mon! It’s difficult enough being a female public defender or prosecutor without having to deal with the kind of institutionalized sexual harassment I’m about to describe. When one of my sources, who wasn’t harassed, but regularly witnessed its effects, realized I was taking it seriously, she broke down and cried.
No women should ever be subjected to this kind of treatment, and the lapses that allowed it to occur fall squarely at Joe McMahon’s feet. That’s where the buck stops, right?
Of course, I won’t be naming my sources or the victims for all the obvious reasons. Joe McMahon has a well-known propensity for retaliating against anyone who threatens his political ambitions. I won’t name the offender at this point, either, because the story really isn’t about him, and I want the results of my FOIA request (Freedom of Information) before we go there.
But with five separate sources – each of whom works, or has worked, in the Kane County Judicial Center – there’s more than enough corroboration to move ahead.
On Thursday, February 22, a top-level KCSAO prosecutor was fired after sending a text to a fellow prosecutor, explicitly outlining what he wanted “to do” to a female prosecutor. I don’t know if the recipient took the text to their bosses, or if someone separately saw it and reported it, but that’s immaterial. There may have been other mitigating circumstances in his termination, too.
But just like it is with DUIs, when the hammer finally falls, it’s not nearly the first time the harasser has harassed. So, I started digging, and it wasn’t very difficult to come up with more examples.
The first time our offender’s harassing behavior was formally reported was in or around 2015. After being regularly stalked and harassed, a female prosecutor finally submitted a written complaint about being groped at an outside office get-together.
But McMahon and Gleason refused to take any action because, “it didn’t happen at the office.” Then in a punitive measure, they moved the offender’s office much closer to the victim, until she filed another complaint and they were forced to move him away.
Five separate sources said that victim finally left the KCSAO in 2017 because Joe McMahon and Jody Gleason refused to stop the harassment.
Fast forward to 2016, and this prosecutor stalked and harassed a public defender to the point where she asked to be moved to another courtroom. Our harasser’s response was to request a transfer to the same venue.
Despite being well aware of the previous incident, McMahon and Gleason approved the move until the Public Defender’s office intervened to prevent it.
When I raised this issue with another KCSAO employee, her immediate response was, “So, you finally caught up with him.” She assured me there were more harassment complaints, and that kind of documentation is always subject to FOIA requests.
But here’s the problem. Two separate county board members told me that Civil Division chief, Joe Lulves, regularly brags about the KCSAO being “immune” to FOIAs. He’ll simply come up with a frivolous reason to deny them, as he has with four or five of my own requests.
That means this one might require the Attorney General’s intervention, but I’ve gone that route before and I’ve won those appeals before.
As my regular readers know, I’ve been taking Joe McMahon to task for being a terrible leader, but I never thought he was a terrible person. There is a difference. So I couldn’t believe my former running partner would ever allow this kind of thing to happen, much less perpetuate it.
So, I asked my sources what went wrong, and they all provided a remarkably similar explanation:
1. KCSAO sexual harassment is condoned and covered up at the highest levels. Whenever a new woman is hired, the other female employees take her aside and explain exactly whom she needs to avoid.
2. McMahon, Gleason, Engerman and Cullen consider sexual harassment to be part of the job, and they expect their female staffers to buck up and “deal with it.”
3. It’s difficult enough for a female prosecutor to move up the KCSAO ladder and complaining about sexual harassment isn’t going to help your cause.
4. This particular harasser, a person with whom I’ve had direct experience, is extremely vindictive – I’m sure he’ll be coming after me. And I can’t tell you just how much I’m looking forward to it.
Think about it. At the height of the #MeToo movement, this individual thought he could get away with sending “that kind” of text.
So why was he fired this time? Because you’ve been reading this blog, dear reader, and the Kane County State’s Attorney knows it. He was terrified at the prospect of that text falling into my hands first. Even the worst things change when people like you pay attention.
In fact, this story is so important that, all previous feelings aside, I’ve brought it to the attention of the Daily Herald, Shaw Media and the Beacon- and Courier-News.
Meanwhile, I’m calling on:
- Joe McMahon
- Joe Cullen
- Jody Gleason, and
- Bill Engerman
to resign before the people of Kane County and the county board force them to resign. I’m including Cullen because, for reasons I’m not ready to disclose quite yet, I’m convinced he knew about it, too. If I discover that Lulves had any knowledge, his name will be added to the list.
I’ve repeatedly called McMahon, Gleason and Cullen to get their side of the story and, so far, they’ve have failed to respond.
The bottom line is, there’s much more to this, but we’ll wait for the FOIA response before we move forward. If you’ve been harassed, or you know someone who has, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I never give up a source!
No woman should have to cry because someone’s finally taking them seriously.