News Local/State

Ex-Illinois House Leader Lang Cleared Of Sexual Harassment, While Accuser Blasts Investigation

State Representative Lou Lang (D-Skokie).

State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie) in his office at the state capitol. Rachel Otwell/NPR Illinois

The inspector general for the Illinois General Assembly said there isn't enough proof that a former House leader, State Rep. Lou Lang, sexually harassed or intimidated a legislative activist.

In a letter released late Wednesday to Lang, acting inspector Julie Porter said that the woman who made the accusation, Maryann Loncar, did not cooperate with the investigation.

"I do not have sufficient evidence that such occurrences, if they even happened, constituted sexual harassment," wrote Porter, who said she has closed the matter.

Loncar, a medical marijuana advocate who interacted with the Skokie Democrat on legislation involving the issue over four years, issued a statement Thursday saying that she distrusts an investigation led by an appointee of legislative leaders.

The finding offers some relief to a Democratic Party besieged by a string of allegations of inappropriate behavior by politicians and top staff members, along with criticism of the way the party chairman Michael Madigan has handled them.

Loncar said at a news conference on May 31 that Lang, on various occasions, had put his arm around her with his hand on her lower back, made unwanted comments to her and later intimidated her.

Lang, a 31-year veteran of the Illinois House, denied the claims but resigned his position as deputy majority leader to House Speaker Madigan and called for an investigation by Porter.

"I welcome the inspector general's conclusion that completely dismisses the allegations as 'unfounded,'" Lang said in a statement. "As far as I'm concerned, I have been vindicated and this matter is now closed."

He did not respond to requests for comment.

Porter said she tried to contact Loncar by mail, email, and through Facebook. But Loncar mentioned only the social media request and accused Porter of not seriously pursuing the matter, although she said from the outset that she would not cooperate with a review.

Loncar said the fact that the inspector general is chosen by the four legislative leaders "is a joke."

"The joke is on the victims. The joke is on the Illinois taxpayers," Loncar said. "My allegations are no joking matter. My allegations deserve a proper look."

Madigan was criticized last winter for the way he handled accusations of sexual harassment by two workers in his campaign organization, including one instance that led to a lawsuit against the party.

A member of his own House caucus later charged that she was harassed and intimidated for opposing legislation and a week after Loncar's claims against Lang, Madigan's longtime chief of staff, Timothy Mapes, who was also the party's executive director, resigned amid accusations of inappropriate sexual comments and intimidation .