CHICAGO - Domestic battery allegations from 15 years ago have resurfaced against a state representative with close ties to Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan.
State Rep. Robert "Bob" Rita's accuser described the alleged abuse on Thursday.
Liz Hogan, Rita's former girlfriend, said the incidents happened in 2002 when she was attempting to break off their relationship.
"He grabbed me by the back of my hair and pulled me down to the ground," said Hogan.
Rita went to trial in the case and was acquitted in 2003. But Hogan, emboldened in part by the #MeToo movement, believes it is now a different era.
"I ran to the back bathroom. He was chasing me from behind, so I tried to lock the door behind myself and that's where he pulled me down on the floor again and some awful things happened and were said," Hogan said.
She also called out Madigan, who her father, former State Rep. Andy McGann, tried to talk to when the incident happened.
"So he came back and almost with like tears in his eyes, he's like 'I'm so sorry,' but Mike Madigan said he couldn't do anything about it," Hogan said.
Madigan said he has no recollection of the conversation, according to his spokesman.
Hogan is supporting Mary Carlvin, a political newcomer challenging Rita in the primary. Carlvin said Madigan's current tough talk about zero tolerance for sexual misconduct rings hollow.
"When Mike Madigan says it's no longer okay to say knock it off, when was it ever okay to just say knock it off? I wonder if that's what he said to Bob Rita, just knock it off?" Carlvin said.
We went to Rita's office in Blue Island to ask him about the allegations, but he was not in.
He was also officially excused from attending the House session Thursday. However, he issued a statement which said:
"More than 15 years ago, a former girlfriend made an accusation against me. A jury of nine women and three men determined those charges were unfounded, and an order of protection was dismissed. The claims were false then and are false today."
Hogan said she feels that the system, along with Madigan, failed her and others. Political organizations controlled by Madigan have recently contributed several thousand dollars to Rita's campaign for postage and printing. Rita is considered a close ally of the speaker.