© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

In Responding To Harassment Complaint, Madigan Says Focus Was On The Victim

House Speaker Michael Madigan spoke with reporters Tuesday after a meeting of the House Democrats.
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
House Speaker Michael Madigan spoke with reporters Tuesday after a meeting of the House Democrats.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan is defending his handling of harassment and assault complaints against former state Rep. Jack Franks.

Brian Mackey reports.

Madigan says his office first received a sexual harassment complaint about Franks in fall 2018.

Franks, a Democrat, left the General Assembly after being elected chairman of the McHenry County Board in 2016. He’s denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with a crime.

In the months following the complaint, Franks was told not to contact anyone on staff or even visit the Capitol, and was later told he could not enter the Statehouse without being escorted by police.

Then, last March, Madigan says his office received additional information, and decided to notify the local prosecutor — and ultimately the Illinois State Police.

Madigan says the timing of his actions was dictated by the person making the complaint.

“My interest and the interest of my office throughout has been the welfare and the privacy of the victim,” Madigan told reporters Tuesday afternoon.

“And then at the appropriate time, we notified law enforcement,” he added. “Once we notified law enforcement, the matter was in the hands of law enforcement, And as I said earlier, I was the one who placed a call to the Sangamon County state’s attorney.”

Last week, months after the initial report, the State Police searched Madigan’s Capitol offices, seeking documents related to Franks’ time as a legislator.

The Chicago Sun-Times broke the story after the speaker’s office quickly responded to an open-records request from the newspaper.

That drew a complaint from the Sangamon County state’s attorney, which contends Madigan’s office ignored a provision in the warrant that meant it had to be kept secret.

Madigan dismissed the dispute as “a difference of opinion among lawyers, which I’m sure the lawyers will work through.”

Copyright 2021 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS. To see more, visit NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS.

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.