Lawmakers call for investigation after email from Madigan ally reveals possible rape cover-up

Lawmakers are calling for an investigation after a longtime ally of House Speaker Mike Madigan reveals a state worker may have covered up a rape.

The stunning allegations surfaced in an email dated July 31, 2012.

The email from powerful lobbyist Michael McClain was sent to senior members of then-governor Pat Quinn's staff.

In it, McClain pleads for leniency in a disciplinary hearing for a state worker and then vouches for his loyalty.

"He has kept his mouth shut on Jones' ghost workers, the rape in Champaign and other items. He is loyal to the Administration," Michael McClain wrote.

"That this person could describe such an act of violence against another human in such a breezy and dismissive way, 'that rape,' you know the one in Champaign, just is really beyond me," said Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, of Chicago.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are now calling for an investigation, including Quinn, who said he had no knowledge of the email or the alleged rape.

McClain has close ties to House Speaker Mike Madigan.

Madigan called the allegations extremely serious and troubling.

"I had no knowledge of the incident referenced in the story and only learned of this today. I encourage those with any information to come forward," he added in a statement.

The worker referenced in the email is identified as Forrest Ashby. He worked on the campaign of JB Pritzker while he was running for governor.

Pritzker in a statement said he was appalled and disgusted by the allegations and is taking action

"The administration's general counsel referred this email to the appropriate investigatory authority, who will make a determination about what next steps can be taken," a spokeswoman said in an email.

The House Republican leader, in a veiled reference to Democrats, said it casts a shadow on Springfield and longtime power brokers.

"There needs to be accountability for what happened, and even worse this individual is currently on the state payroll," said State Rep Jim Durkin, House Republican leader.

Ashby was on contract serving as a consultant for correctional training revisions as of last September, according to John Keigher, chief legal counsel for the Illinois Law Enforcement and Training Board.

The board suspended Ashby's contract Wednesday due to the investigation ordered by the governor, Keigher said.

Ashby and McClain didn't immediately respond to ABC7's requests for comment.
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