Attorney says Lakin never admitted sexual abuse

October 21, 2013 

L. Thomas Lakin, in a 2008 BND file photo.

BND

— A filing in a civil lawsuit against former attorney and political heavyweight Tom Lakin questions whether he has ever admitted to sexually abusing a boy.

The issue will be discussed next month during a hearing in St. Clair County Circuit Court.

Lakin, 72, pleaded no-contest in 2011 in Madison County to criminal charges that he sexually molested a 15-year-old boy.

As part of the plea, Lakin signed a document stating he agrees to "the truth" of the prosecution's allegations.

Lakin now is being sued by the boy and the boy's family.

Lakin's attorney in the civil lawsuit, Clyde Kuehn of Belleville, wants the lawsuit dismissed. Kuehn this month filed an affidavit from Ben Allen, the attorney who represented Lakin in criminal court. Allen, in the affidavit, said Lakin never admitted to any sexual abuse in his no-contest plea.

Allen said he and the prosecutor agreed to let the judge decide Lakin's guilt in a "stipulated bench trial," which would allow Lakin to maintain his innocence.

"We proceeded with the stipulated bench trial upon that understanding. We stipulated that the state's evidence, if believed, would be legally sufficient to establish the offense of aggravated criminal sexual abuse, and we allowed the court to render a finding of guilt on that basis without actually litigating any of the facts," Allen wrote in his affidavit.

But Ed Unsell, the attorney for the boy and his family, argues that Lakin essentially admitted guilt in the no-contest plea.

"I believe the proceedings in the criminal trial render him civilly liable," Unsell said Monday.

The issue is important, because if the judge in the civil lawsuit finds that Lakin has already admitted guilt in criminal court, Unsell would not have to prove the allegations himself.

Lakin pleaded guilty in federal court in 2008 to distributing cocaine to a minor, but as part of a plea agreement in that case, prosecutors dismissed a charge that he took an underage boy to his beach home in Malibu, Calif., with intent to have sex.

Lakin received a six-year prison sentence on the federal charges. Lakin also received a six-year sentence on the Madison County charge, to be served at the same time as the federal sentence.

According to the federal Bureau of Prisons website, Lakin is scheduled to be released from federal custody on Nov. 30. He is currently in a halfway house in St. Louis.

The civil lawsuit names "John Doe" as a plaintiff. The next action on the civil case is scheduled for Nov. 21 when, according to an order by Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf, pending motions will be heard.

Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at gpawlaczyk@bnd.com and 239-2625.