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State’s attorney questioned for delay

2012 rival ‘disturbed’ by assistant’s actions, failure to investigate

MOUNT CARROLL – Carroll County State’s Attorney Scott Brinkmeier is not talking these days about his former prosecutor, Hunter Hogan.

But he addressed issues surrounding Hogan a couple of years ago when his Republican primary opponent challenged him the subject. He said at the time that he had informed the attorney general about Hogan.

On March 9, 2012, Michelle Buckwalter-Schurman, Brinkmeier’s rival for the Republican nomination, brought up Hogan during a Carroll County Republican Women’s luncheon.

An account of the event appeared in the Prairie Advocate, a Lanark-based weekly newspaper, which recently became a sister publication to Sauk Valley Media.

According to the state, Hogan, who is in his late 30s and recently moved to Cairo, Egypt, pursued a personal relationship with a 19-year-old woman he had prosecuted as a defendant. He also pursued a relationship with a 17-year-old victim in a child pornography case that he prosecuted on behalf of the state, public records say.

According to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Hogan’s actions with the 17-year-old girl rose to the level of criminal conduct.

In early 2010, after the girl turned 17 – by Hogan’s own admission – he kissed her and touched her breasts, according to public records. In Illinois, the age of consent for sexual contact is 17, although an adult with authority over a 17-year-old is barred by law from having such relations.

At the 2012 luncheon, Buckwalter-Schurman said she was disturbed by Brinkmeier’s assertions that he was “tough on sex crimes.” Yet no charges had been filed against Hogan, she said.

“We’re a small county,” the Prairie Advocate reported her saying. “We don’t slide things under the rug. Let’s deal with them head on.”

Brinkmeier responded at the luncheon that the matter had been referred to the attorney general’s office for investigation.

“I don’t think I should be handling it,” Brinkmeier said. “I wasn’t aware of anything until after the allegation was made to my office. As soon as it was made, he was terminated from the office – he never worked another day in the office.”

Buckwalter-Schurman said Brinkmeier could have asked for a special prosecutor.

Brinkmeier told the audience that he would provide anyone with a copy of the letter he had sent to the state attorney general’s office.

Brinkmeier hasn’t returned calls for comment for months. Buckwalter-Schurman couldn’t be reached.

Last year, the state Supreme Court disbarred Hogan, a Houston native.

In an interview with the Prairie Advocate in March 2012, Buckwalter-Schurman pointed to a complaint against Hogan filed by the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Months before Brinkmeier told Hogan to resign or be fired, he had known that the attorney was involved with the pornography victim personally, according to the complaint.

According to the disciplinary commission, Hogan had exchanged emails and text messages and communicated on Facebook and MySpace about personal matters with the victim. He also met with the victim alone and for swing dance lessons, the complaint says.

As a result of Hogan’s interactions with the victim and her family, the complaint says, Brinkmeier told Hogan that he was concerned that his objectivity had been compromised. He ordered Hogan to have no other contact with the victim and her family until the case ended. Brinkmeier also removed Hogan from the case entirely.

On Feb. 16, 2010, a probation officer informed Brinkmeier about “inappropriate contact” between the 19-year-old defendant and Hogan. The defendant told the probation officer, according to the complaint, that she feared Hogan’s contact with her could jeopardize her probation and wanted the attorney to leave her alone.

Buckwalter-Schurman said Brinkmeier should have fired Hogan months before, when he received word about the personal communications with the pornography victim. On Feb. 25, 2010, Brinkmeier gave Hogan his ultimatum – resign or be fired.

“[B]ut surely 9 days should not have passed between receiving the second indication and getting this guy out of his position as an officer of the court,” she told the Prairie Advocate.

On Feb. 22, 2010 – 3 days before the ultimatum – Hogan had met with the pornography victim, kissing her and touching her breasts, the complaint said.

“Sending a letter to the attorney general, as Brinkmeier indicated at the [Republican] meeting, is all the state’s attorney did, apparently,” she said. “Why not have a special prosecutor appointed and/or follow up with the attorney general and insist on some action being taken to protect these girls?”

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