Stopping sexual harassment at the Illinois capitol

On behalf of Fox & Fox, S.C.

Because our law firm serves both Wisconsin and the Chicago metro area, we keep our eyes trained on developments important to both. We read recently that an ethics panel of Illinois legislators has chosen former judge and Menard County state’s attorney Carol Pope to take on a backlog of sexual harassment complaints at the state capitol.

Pope is scheduled to start as the new legislative inspector general in March, the Chicago Tribune reports.

State Rep. Avery Bourne said Pope “has a really strong background in sexual harassment. Her knowledge was really impressive.”

He said the Ethics Commission’s vote for Pope was unanimous, though she must also be formally approved by the full legislature.

State Sen. Cristina Castro of Elgin agrees that Pope is the person to help right the ethics shortcomings at the capitol. She says she’s “confident that Judge Pope will fulfill her duties and meet our expectations as the legislative inspector general. She will bring her experience and knowledge to our commission and help us move forward and become stronger.”

Former federal prosecutor Julie Porter  took the inspector general job after a a victims’ rights advocate alleged she was harassed by Sen. Ira Silverstein but that her complaint was not responded to for nearly a year. Denise Rotheimer said Silverstein made inappropriate comments about her appearance, made late-night phone calls and sent her hundreds of social media messages.

Silverstein denied her allegations, but offered a conditional apology “if I made her uncomfortable.”

Porter said in a public report that she determined that Silverstein didn’t sexually harass Rotheimer, but “did behave in a manner unbecoming of a legislator.”

Porter also reported that “evidence does not support” abuse complaints a deputy of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Let’s hope victims of sexual harassment at the Illinois capital and far beyond find justice and make workplaces free of unlawful harassment and retaliation.

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