There’s more than one way to beat an illegal FOIA denial!
After the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office sent me 292 blank pages of complaints against a prosecutor allegedly fired for sexual harassment, I was faced with a rather daunting Attorney General appeals process. And while I’ll certainly win that appeal, since there are no sanctions for the failure to answer a valid Freedom of Information Request, I’m looking at a lengthy court battle to get my hands on the actual documents.
Rest assured, that appeal is in process and I will get every single one of those unredacted 292 pages long before the fat lady sings.
But while those gears of justice slowly grind, one immensely brave former KCSAO prosecutor reached out to provide me with her formal sexual harassment complaint. There are people to whom the word “justice” still actually means something.
Names are withheld for all of the obvious reasons, but as we proceed, everything in italics are her exact words. Please remember, the fired prosecutor was the complainant’s direct supervisor as both an intern and full-time employee.
October 15, 2015
I was assigned to a case that was set for hearing that required a certain female officer to testify. I asked (prosecutor) if he would cover the hearing for me. (Prosecutor) indicated that he wouldn’t be able to do the hearing because he used to sleep with that woman, but that was when she weighed 30 pounds less and he wouldn’t be caught dead with her now.”
Prosecutors bragging about sleeping with witnesses? What could possibly go wrong with that? Perhaps we should fatten those officers up a bit so they’re a little less appealing. And this is one of the least objectionable exchanges, too.
At about 1:00 p.m., I was returning from my lunch break and I got back to my office where I started to take off my winter boots to put on my work shoes. As I was doing this, (staffer) walked past accompanying (staffer) out of the office. (Prosecutor) was standing outside my office placing items on his cart. As (staffer) walked past, he saw me and said, “Am I interrupting something?” (Prosecutor) responded, “Oh no man! I wouldn’t be that quick,” and then he laughed. I told him he was disgusting, and he made kissing noises at me.
Kissing noises? And that wasn’t enough to get State’s Attorney Joe McMahon to fire him? That’s taking tolerance to a whole new level!
May 11, 2016
(Prosecutor) spent this day and the day before asking multiple people, in and out of his office, for advice on the same issue. There were at least three conversations with different people, one with (staffer). The issue he was discussing with all of these people was, would a girl that he was dating think that it was weird if he did not have sex with her in the first month in which they dated her. I was forced to listen to these conversations multiple times until he asked me the same question. I told him that I felt uncomfortable and asked to leave. He told me to stay so that he could call (staffer) and ask her while I was in his office.
McMahon has repeatedly asked the County Board for more prosecutors. Perhaps if KCSAO management wasn’t so busy forcing subordinates to listen to every lurid detail of their sex lives, those new hires wouldn’t be necessary.
(Prosecutor) has commented on my clothing and how it looked on me, told that the bailiffs and everyone in the courthouse liked my new suit, told me that I had the best legs of all the female attorneys in the office, sent me kissing emoticons through text messages, and made kissing noises to me in person.
(Prosecutor) has had conversations with other attorneys in the office regarding their sex lives in front of me and other attorneys. On one occasion, at a social event outside of the work, he rubbed my legs under the table with his legs while there were (KCSAO) supervisors present. This contact was uninvited and made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
On one occasion, when I was an intern, (Prosecutor) invited me to participate in a 402 conference with Judge (name redacted) and (staffer). After the 402 conference he joked with (staffer) and other ASAs that he invited me because Judge (name redacted) likes pretty girls with nice legs.
And Prosecutor McGropy still wasn’t fired. First Assistant Jody Gleason excused the leg rubbing incident by claiming it didn’t happen at the office.
Fed up with this kind of insistent abuse and McMahon’s abject refusal to do anything about it, our female prosecutor finally resigned. Listening to the pain in her voice as she described being forced to leave her “dream job” is something I’ll never forget.
So, why was this harassing prosecutor finally cut loose years later? I’m hearing two stories. The first is that a couple of judges finally had it with his behavior and went to McMahon leaving him no choice. The second is the KCSAO was terrified that a sexual harassment complaint would fall into my hands and I’d make it public.
When he finally was terminated, our prosecutor’s immediate boss, Chief Felony Prosecutor Bill Engerman declared “I’m sad to see (prosecutor) go.” Of course, he was! Because Engerman was fired from the DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s Office for the same kind of behavior.
It’s hard enough being a prosecutor or a public defender. It’s even harder being a female prosecutor or public defender. But to have to put up with groping, kissing noises, and constant sex life commentary is completely beyond the pale.
Imagine if your wife, daughter or sister had to regularly endure this kind of indignity. And most of those female prosecutors and PDs can’t just quit because they have six-figure student loan debt – and Joe McMahon, Jody Gleason, Joe Lulves and Bill Engerman know it!
So, once again, I’m calling on Joe McMahon, Joe Lulves, Jody Gleason and Bill Engerman to do the right thing and resign. Because I’m not nearly done with this story and this is just the tip of the iceberg.