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Breaking news: Sterling attorney accused of raping a client; Lancaster free on $150,000 bond

MORRISON – A prominent, longtime attorney accused of raping a client in his Sterling office was arrested Thursday afternoon and is free on $150,000 bond.

Michael A. Lancaster, 63, of Rock Falls, is charged in Whiteside County Court with two counts of criminal sexual assault, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison, and one count of unlawful restraint, which carries 1 to 3 years, the Illinois State Police said in a news release this morning.

According to the release, and court records, Lancaster, who is 6-foot-4 and at least 250 pounds, “by use of force or threat” confined the 42-year-old woman in his office, digitally penetrated her and forced her to perform oral sex on him.

The incident happened during normal work hours.

Lancaster was arrested around 2:30 p.m. Thursday, after a search of his home and office for evidence corroborating the woman’s complaint, the release said. He posted bond shortly thereafter; he has a hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 28, court records show.

Because Lancaster works so closely with local law enforcement, the ISP Division of Criminal Investigations is handling the case, and Rock Island County State’s Attorney Dora A. Villarreal is prosecuting, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest with Whiteside County State’s Attorney Terry Costello’s office.

Lancaster, of Miller & Lancaster P.C., 15 E. Third in Sterling, has been an attorney for nearly 40 years, handling divorce, personal injury, civil and criminal defense cases.

Among the clients he is defending is Rachel Helm, 17, accused of helping her girlfriend Anna Schroeder of Morrison conceal Schroeder’s mother’s murder, which occurred on July 6, 2017.

According to the Miller & Lancaster website, Lancaster also is involved with “a number of local charities, including the Sterling-Rock Falls Day Care Agency and community development groups.”

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