Criminal Justice

'Pepgate' Pits Prosecutor Against Police

Only five months into his new job, the top prosecutor in rural Knox County, Illinois, several hundred miles southwest of Chicago, is already at odds with local authorities.

Accused in a federal lawsuit of sexually harassing female employees, State’s Attorney John Pepmeyer fired several lawyers in his office who supported the plaintiffs, reports the Chicago Tribune. But he can’t as easily eliminate from his life law enforcement agencies investigating what is known locally as the “Pepgate” case.

Nonetheless, he arguably may be trying to–or, as his supporters say, putting himself in the line of fire due to his aggressive investigation of alleged wrongdoing by some of the very law enforcement agencies that have been targeting him. At this point, at least five different agencies reportedly are investigating potential cases being made both against Pepmeyer and by him.

Meanwhile, of course, the prosecutorial show must go on. Pepmeyer has hired new lawyers to replace those he fired, and “files motions on his own behalf in a smattering of different actions related to the controversies of his office,” the newspaper reports. “Knox County Sheriff Jim Thompson and Pepmeyer both acknowledge they are barely on speaking terms, an awkward arrangement for the two top law-enforcement officials in a small county.”

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