Metro-East News

Man alleges judge offered reduced legal fee in exchange for sex

St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ronald Duebbert
St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ronald Duebbert

A man swore in a court document that St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert propositioned him, fondled him, then offered to discount his legal bill by $100 if the man performed a sex act on him while Duebbert was in private practice.

The man, now 25, filed the affidavit Monday as part of a motion to vacate his guilty plea to a felony charge of aggravated fleeing from police.

The man alleged that on Oct. 14, 2016, just weeks before Duebbert defeated then-Chief Judge John Baricevic at the polls, the two met in Duebbert’s Belleville office to discuss his felony case, and that’s when the alleged sexual assault occurred.

The man alleged Duebbert told him he would take $100 off of his bill if the man performed oral sex on Duebbert. The man refused.

“He then reached into my shorts, felt the side of my body and grabbed my penis through my underwear,” the victim wrote in the sworn affidavit. “I freaked out. I froze up for a second. I felt disgusted. I told him I’m not gay. Don’t touch me that way.”

The Belleville News-Democrat does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.

Duebbert declined to speak with a reporter Monday afternoon. He has said the Democrats are trying to unseat him because he is a Republican and gay.

Just a few days before Duebbert was sworn-in as judge, the man and Duebbert met in a courtroom where Duebbert introduced him to Dedra Moore, a lawyer who would be taking over his case.

The man alleged that because of the sexual assault and harassment, and Moore’s likely knowledge of it, he did not enter his guilty plea voluntarily.

“To the best of his knowledge and belief, Dedra Moore was probably aware of his misconduct due to her representation of Duebbert and, therefore the incompetency of her counsel continued during her representation,” the motion to withdraw the guilty plea stated.

Moore declined to comment Monday. She represents Duebbert on matters relating to a case being investigated by a special prosecutor involving Duebbert.

Alex Enyart, the man’s attorney who filed the motion Monday, stated that Moore had an “obvious conflict of interest.”

“I believe this is a credible claim otherwise we would not have filed to vacate his guilty plea,” Enyart said in the motion to withdraw the guilty plea.

He added that he fulfilled his reporting requirements by notifying the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Board and the Judicial Inquiry Board, which handles complaints against judges and judicial candidates.

Earlier this month, State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly requested a special prosecutor to review a sexual abuse allegation against Duebbert. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the victim in that case is the same as the man who filed the motion to vacate his guilty plea Monday.

In 1999, Duebbert was charged with battery in connection with an 18-year-old man’s allegation that Duebbert fondled him. The 18-year-old was in the St. Clair County Building to appear in court on a 1998 burglary charge. He alleged that Duebbert offered him a ride to his office in his Lexus, then fondled him inside the car.

A special prosecutor is also reviewing evidence submitted by the Major Case Squad regarding Duebbert’s alleged obstruction of justice in a murder case. Duebbert was accused of making false statements about murder suspect David Fields, who once lived in Duebbert’s Belleville home. Fields is accused of the first-degree murder of Carl Z. Silas, of Belleville, on Dec. 30.

Duebbert appeared before a grand jury in July. No charges have been issued in the case.

The disposition of the 1999 case is unclear because it is no longer listed on the circuit clerk’s webpage. Charges such as battery can be expunged from a person’s court record with a court order.

Last week, Duebbert was involved in a motorcycle accident near Gainesville, Florida, but he was back at work Monday. Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson has placed Duebbert on administrative duties, but he continues to be paid.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer

George Pawlaczyk: 618-239-2625, @gapawlaczyk