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Authorities probing if ‘rape in Champaign’ email is linked to sex offender granted early prison release

Chicago Sun Times

Monday, January 13, 2020  |  Editorial  |  Editorial Board

Lobbyists (12a)
But many questions remain about the email penned by lobbyist who’s been a confidant of House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Authorities are probing whether “the rape in Champaign” mentioned in a bizarre email from a Statehouse insider to aides of former Gov. Pat Quinn is connected to an inmate who sexually assaulted a young girl after being released early from prison.

The email from Mike McClain, a top lobbyist and close confidant of House Speaker Mike Madigan, was sent in July 2012 in a bid to win leniency for a state worker in a disciplinary case.

McClain argued the man “has kept his mouth shut on Jones’ ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items.”

“He is loyal to the Administration,” McClain wrote in the email obtained by WBEZ.

Law enforcement officials are now investigating whether the “rape” section of the email is linked to Scott Wayne Thompson, a sex offender who was released early from prison under Quinn, the Chicago Tribune reported over the weekend.

McClain is under federal scrutiny as part of an ongoing investigation into ComEd’s lobbying practices in Illinois, the Sun-Times and other news organizations have reported. He hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing. Several other lobbyists with ties to Madigan are part of that investigation, too.

In March 2009, Thompson began serving a 2 12 year sentence at Big Muddy River Correctional Center after failing to register as a sex offender following a 1999 conviction for sexually abusing a child under the age of 13 in Piatt County, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

Thompson was granted a day of credit for each day served, as well as 180 days of “good time credit,” according to a senior official in Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration who has reviewed IDOC records. He was released in May 2010.

About three months later, Thompson was arrested again and charged with sexually abusing another child in Champaign County, the official said.

He eventually was convicted and sentenced to 3 ½ years behind bars — but he didn’t spend that amount of time in prison.

Records show Thompson was released from prison in June 2012 and placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services, which operates a facility to detain and provide treatment to sexually violent people in downstate Rushville. Thompson remains at that facility to this day.

The McClain email to Quinn’s administration was sent about one month after Thompson was released from prison. McClain was seeking leniency in a disciplinary case for Forrest Ashby, a state employee who worked as an administrator at Rushville when Thompson was admitted. It is unclear what Ashby — who, like McClain, lives in downstate Quincy — was accused of or whether he was ever disciplined. The Sun-Times has been unable to reach Ashby; Ashby declined to comment to the Tribune.

It also remained unclear Sunday why McClain might have been citing Thompson’s case to top Quinn aides. A litany of law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of the email, including the Illinois State Police, declined to comment.

What is clear is that early release of prison inmates became a hot-button issue for Quinn, who launched a program called MGT Push, an early release program that came under intense criticism because many of the released inmates quickly recommitted crimes.

Thompson wasn’t part of the MGT Push program.