Former Prosecutor Claims He Was Sexually Harassed | WGLT

Former Prosecutor Claims He Was Sexually Harassed

Oct 3, 2019

A former prosecutor who handled sex crimes for the McLean County state’s attorney’s office is accused in a lawsuit filed by a former colleague of sexual harassment, assault and battery during her alleged repeated sexual advances.

Layne Roberts accuses Kristin Alferink of attempting to engage him in a romantic relationship with her starting in 2016 when he joined the office as a misdemeanor prosecutor until he was terminated in 2017. Both Alferink and Roberts are married, according to the lawsuit.

Named with Alferink as defendants are McLean County, former state’s attorney Jason Chambers, and current State’s Attorney Don Knapp. Chambers, who is now a circuit judge, knew about Roberts’ ongoing complaints involving Alferink’s conduct but did not address the them, said the lawsuit. Knapp became state’s attorney after Roberts left the office and is named in his official capacity as head of the county office.

Alferink was fired from her post as felony sex crimes prosecutor on Nov. 28, 2018. Knapp declined to comment on the lawsuit or the reason for Alferink’s termination. Alferink, who now works as a prosecutor for Champaign County, also declined to comment.

Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Reitz was unavailable to comment on the lawsuit, including on whether she was aware of the allegations involving Alferink when she hired her.

The nine-count complaint accuses Alferink of “verbal, non-verbal and physical manipulative conduct designed to force a romantic relationship” on Roberts. The male prosecutor was subjected to repeated unwanted touching and conversations about a relationship Roberts claims never materialized.

The lawsuit accuses Alferink of forcing Roberts “to have closed door meetings in order to lead co-workers to believe that they were having 'a relationship' and sex at work." 

“I have your job in my hands,” Alferink allegedly told Roberts.

Roberts maintains he was threatened by his former co-worker after he reported accusations to Chambers about the alleged harassment. “You need to spend this weekend seriously looking for a new job,” the lawsuit quotes Alferink’s text message.

Roberts claims Alferink attempted to buy his silence after he was fired by offering to help him find another job. When he resisted those overtures, Alferink sent Roberts threatening emails from her work account warning him, “be careful about who you are talking to about the state’s attorney’s office. Some of the stuff you are saying about the office/people here is actionable and is getting back to us,” according to the lawsuit.

Roberts does not link his dismissal from the prosecutor’s office directly to the alleged sexual misconduct, saying it was for "pretextual reasons." A complaint filed with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission outlines charges that Roberts practiced law without a valid license for several months while he was employed with the county.

Between April 19, 2017, and Nov. 29, 2017, Roberts worked as a prosecutor despite being removed from the state’s registry of attorneys licensed to practice law, according to ARDC documents. Roberts’ loss of privileges to practice law stemmed from his failure to complete mandatory continuing education courses and pay a $250 late fee tied to his registration requirements.

Roberts has since addressed the deficiencies outlined in the ARDC complaint. Final disciplinary action by the state is pending.

Roberts’ lawsuit accuses Alferink of assault and battery by attempting to forcibly grab and kiss him on multiple occasions.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, back wages and reimbursement for attorney’s fees.

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