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Local Editorials

Carroll prosecutor should push investigation

The top prosecutor for Carroll County dropped the ball regarding a nearly 4-year-old allegation made against his former assistant prosecutor. Scott Brinkmeier should contact the State Police to get an investigation started.

Carroll County State’s Attorney Scott Brinkmeier has some explaining to do about how he handled a serious allegation made against a former assistant prosecutor.

The ex-employee is Hunter Hogan, who served from 2008 until 2010. Hogan left the employ of Brinkmeier on Feb. 26, 2010, after Brinkmeier asked him to resign or be fired because of Hogan’s attempts to develop a relationship with a 19-year-old defendant whom he had prosecuted.

In a separate incident, in March 2010, according to the mother of a child pornography victim who was involved in a case that Hogan prosecuted, Hogan kissed the victim, then 17, during a social outing. Hogan also admitted to touching the breasts of the victim.

That behavior by Hogan was later determined to have risen to the level of criminal conduct, according to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, which deals with attorney licensing issues. While the age of consent for sexual contact in Illinois is 17, the law bars an adult with authority over a 17-year-old from having such relations.

Brinkmeier had advised the mother to contact the commission, so she did.

But it took Brinkmeier 19 months to seek a criminal investigation. Brinkmeier said that, on Dec. 21, 2011, he wrote a letter to the Illinois Attorney General’s office about investigating the matter.

And there the issue languished for more than 2 years until Sauk Valley Media contacted the Attorney General’s office not long ago.

What was going on with the investigation? we wanted to know.

Hogan had since been disbarred, but would anything else happen?

Turns out that the Attorney General’s office believes it never received Brinkmeier’s request from 2011.

“Further,” wrote Scott Mulford, an Attorney General’s spokesman, “had we received this letter, we would have declined the request because the appropriate entity to seek an investigation is the Illinois State Police.”

From the Attorney General’s perspective, Brinkmeier sent his request to the wrong place.

In Brinkmeier’s defense, a change in personnel at the AG’s office could have caused confusion regarding the case, and we’re talking about a pretty large state bureaucracy, too.

Brinkmeier appears to have understood the gravity of the allegation. In the initial letter he sent to the Attorney General, he said that he wrote, “The allegations are especially troubling because they have been made against an individual who was sworn to uphold the law.”

What we find especially troubling is the extensive delay in this case. Brinkmeier’s failure to follow the case to some sort of conclusion is a head-scratcher.

We also find it troubling that Brinkmeier, as of last week, had not referred the case to the Illinois State Police, as the Attorney General’s office advised.

Rather, he typed a second letter to renew his request that the Attorney General look into the matter.

That action misses the point. Police conduct investigations, not Attorney General’s staffers.

The State Police are the people whom Brinkmeier needs to contact.

We happen to know well the District 1 office of the Illinois State Police, which covers Carroll County. It’s right across the street from Sauk Valley Media’s Sterling office.

We encourage Brinkmeier to go to his computer, call up his letter to the Attorney General, revise it accordingly, and send it to District Commander, Illinois State Police District 1, 3107 E. Lincolnway, Sterling, IL 61081-1712.

And then, he should keep in regular touch with the State Police until the case, one way or another, is resolved.

After all, he certainly would not want it said that, if you are an assistant prosecutor in Carroll County and you commit what appears to be a crime, you need not fear prosecution.

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