Retired Coles County public defender Lonnie Lutz allegedly fondled 3 women

2013-08-16T22:30:00Z 2013-08-16T22:40:40Z Retired Coles County public defender Lonnie Lutz allegedly fondled 3 womenBy KAYLEIGH ZYSKOWSKI, JG-TC Staff Writer JG-TC.com

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission has filed a complaint regarding alleged unwanted sexual advances toward women against Coles County attorney Lonnie Lutz.

Filed Aug. 5, the complaint against the recently retired Coles County public defender alleges three counts of battery against three different women.

Lutz served as the county public defender for 33 years before retiring in June. The complaint says he was serving as public defender when the alleged actions occurred — the first in 2010 and the others in 2012.

The charges, involving three female clients whom Lutz was assigned to represent, allege unwanted sexual advances toward the women by Lutz.

According to an official at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC) Springfield office, Lutz must respond to the complaint by Sept. 3. A pre-hearing — similar to a pretrial conference — will take place, during which a hearing date will be set. Officials say Lutz was served with papers on the complaint on Tuesday.

The hearing will be held before two lawyers and one non-lawyer who will volunteer to hear the case. They will make a recommendation to the Illinois Supreme Court, the official said, which is the only body that can discipline lawyers in the state of Illinois, the ARDC spokesman said.

Contacted Friday afternoon, Lutz referred comment on this case to his attorney, Rodney Smith of Brankey & Smith law office in Charleston.

The ARDC is a disciplinary body and cannot level criminal charges, which would have to be brought either by Coles County State’s Attorney Brian Bower or a special prosecutor.

The ARDC complaint states it is against: “Lonnie L. Lutz, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois on Nov. 10, 1977, and alleges that (Lutz) has engaged in the following conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.”

The first count alleges Lutz engaged in behavior “overreaching the attorney-client relationship” from Oct. 12, 2012, when he was assigned to to a defendant's case in Coles County, until Nov. 15, 2012, when the woman found private counsel. The defendant was charged with possession of methamphetamine and morphine.

The count claims on Oct. 11, 2012, Lutz asked the woman to come back to his office following a court appearance.

“During their conversation, (Lutz) then stood up, reached over to (the woman) and hugged her, then kissed her on the mouth, and put his tongue in her mouth,” the complaint states. “(She) said nothing but did not return the kiss.”

Lutz then said he could work something out with the state’s attorney on her case, and started rubbing her back, the complaint states. He allegedly asked the woman if his rubbing her back “felt good.” She responded that the “whole thing” made her nervous and upset, according to the complaint.

“(Lutz) then reached down and touched (the woman’s) breasts, over her shirt and reached between her legs and rubbed her vaginal area,” the complaint states. “He then put her hand on his pants, over his erect penis, and said “see what you do to me?”

Lutz told the woman that he was going to Springfield for the weekend, and asked if she would like to go with him, according to the complaint. He allegedly said he would tie her to the bed while he was at a conference. The woman did not respond.

The woman’s mother then called on her cellphone, and she told Lutz she had to leave, and she left his office.

The behavior was allegedly repeated a week later, the ARDC complaint states.

The second count again alleges that Lutz engaged behavior “overreaching the attorney-client relationship” beginning Aug. 14, 2010, when he asked a second woman — who was facing a theft charge — to his office.

The complaint states that Lutz did not sit at a chair behind his desk, but pulled up a chair so he was sitting directly in front of the woman. Lutz allegedly placed one of his legs between his client’s legs, and began to rub her leg.

The complaint continues by saying he allegedly asked the woman questions about her personal life, including questions about her boyfriend.

After she told Lutz she could not work because of a neck injury, he allegedly got up, and walked behind her and started rubbing her neck and shoulders, the complaint states.

“(The woman) asked (Lutz) if he treated all his clients this way and (he) said ‘only the special ones,’” the complaint states.

It alleges the woman left “feeling uncomfortable and stressed.”

The woman went to the car where her boyfriend waited for her, where she explained what had happened, the complaint stated. The couple filed a report with the Charleston Police Department, which passed the case to the Coles County State’s Attorney’s office, the ARDC complaint states.

No formal charges were filed, according to the complaint.

The third count in the matter alleges similar misconduct against a third female client who was charged with a theft offense, the complaint stated.

The count states the communication between Lutz and the woman began Aug. 18, 2012, a Saturday, when Lutz asked her to his office, the complaint states.

According to the complaint, the woman asked if Lutz usually had Saturday appointments, and he allegedly said, “I do if there is a pretty blond woman.”

Lutz allegedly asked about the client’s personal life during the 45-minute appointment and “did not ask her many questions about her case,” the complaint stated.

The woman missed her next court appearance on Aug. 27, 2012. Lutz allegedly told her that he “covered” for her and that “there are different ways to pay me back,” the complaint states.

After the woman’s next court appearance, Lutz asked her to wait outside the courtroom, where he allegedly sat next to her so their legs were touching.

“(The woman) moved down the bench several times, and each time, (Lutz) also moved down the bench so that he was sitting close to her,” the ARDC complaint states.

Lutz’s attorney, Smith, had not yet returned a phone call to the JG-TC to discuss the matter before press time late Friday.

The current complaint against Lutz can be found online at https://www.iardc.org/13PR0083CM.html.

Prior complaint

This would not be the first time that a case involving Lutz has gone before the state Supreme Court.

He was reprimanded by justices in 2008 for charging a fee to a client whom he was originally appointed to represent in his role as Coles County public defender in 2003, according to JG-TC reports from 2008. That complaint was filed against Lutz by the ARDC in November 2006.

The punishment was that there is a record of what Lutz did that the public can access. Lutz has been licensed to practice law in Illinois since 1977.

Lutz’s attorney, also Smith at that time, said Lutz felt he had done nothing wrong because there is no Supreme Court rule precluding part-time public defenders from representing clients privately and that the court was aware that the client privately retained Lutz. The ARDC hearing panel had recommended a two- to three-month suspension, Smith said.

Lutz was “in essence, vindicated,” Smith told the JG-TC, with a reprimand for allegations of misleading a client about the services he would receive.

The Illinois Supreme Court went with a recommendation from a review board of the state ARDC. The court declined to take an appeal from the ARDC staff that asked it to consider a tougher sanction against Lutz.

The review board recommended the reprimand for not telling Max G. McCall that he would receive the same legal services whether he hired Lutz or whether Lutz remained as his court-appointed attorney, the JG-TC previously reported. That occurred in 2004, when Lutz was still taking private cases, something he didn’t do as of 2008.

The review board didn’t find Lutz at fault for the original accusations in the case against him, but also went against a recommendation from an ARDC hearing board earlier in the process that said the case against Lutz should be dismissed.

“We’re happy that the Supreme Court decided not to take the case,” said attorney Smith, who represented Lutz in the discipline case then. “We still think the hearing panel got it right.

“He was, in essence, vindicated,” Smith told the JG-TC at the time.

Contact Zyskowski at kzyskowski@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6869.

Copyright 2014 JG-TC.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(38) Comments

  1. booter
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    booter - September 19, 2013 11:32 am
    anyone who needs a phone # to ARDC is 217-546-3523. they are super nice. and hoping to get more to file.
    Dont b afraid, they are not bullies like the ignorant comments on this page.
  2. booter
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    booter - September 19, 2013 11:09 am
    Thank u Rosanna. Its been filed and I talked to the caseworker assigned to this case and they are also interested who else in the Coles County Legal System who had knowlege of this crime and did not report it..... Who knows how deep this may go????? I think it is time for me to file a complaint against one other attourney.
    One thing I have learned is all we have to do is wait and the dark will surface. There is a slow justice.
  3. Cillalea
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    Cillalea - August 28, 2013 10:45 am
    yea.... collusion? get a life. A crime is a crime. just because a woman is charged with a crime- doesnt mean she deserves this. two wrongs do not make a right.
  4. Cillalea
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    Cillalea - August 28, 2013 10:41 am
    contact the ARDC. It is in Springfield. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commision.
  5. gringa
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    gringa - August 26, 2013 11:04 am
    Government's track record is ALWAYS politically motivated. Has JG-TC even considered digging around in this cesspool of charges for collusion among these three plaintiffs?

    Yes, I've read the complaint, and they raise concerns and doubts about Lutz's role in this; but take a look at the criminal records of these three females, just in Coles County - and tell me how credible they are.

    Why do these women remain anonymous in this report, but we have a large photo of Lutz at the top of the story?
  6. kellyjo
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    kellyjo - August 25, 2013 1:28 pm
    Really go Lonnie go ,well I think he covered that.I wouldn't support crap other than go girls gooooooooooooooo.
  7. Rosanna
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    Rosanna - August 24, 2013 2:24 pm
    Gringa, these are not allegations made anonymously, if you check the link at the top of the article you can find that information.

    At least one of the complaints reached the Coles County SA's Office and nothing was done. Three years later the ARDC, which is a Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court, thinks that it has merit.

    Government doesn't have a good track record when it comes to policing itself and if the public doesn't discuss the problems, nothing will change.
  8. gringa
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    gringa - August 23, 2013 10:35 am
    No one knows the factual basis of these allegations. Why not give it a rest for now and let due process determine the truthfulness of the plaintiffs or whether Lonnie Lutz is guilty?

    Reviewing this thread, it's obvious that no one knows the veracity of the accusers. No one, except the accusers themselves. The comments on here smack of cheap hysterical rumor-based gossiping I've overheard in coffee shops. If we judge Lutz on here, release the names of the accusers, so we can also judge them.
  9. Rosanna
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    Rosanna - August 22, 2013 2:03 pm
    "They were probably scared."

    I agree but I think it goes beyond that. Whether counsel is retained or appointed, the defendant has a right to counsel without a conflict of interest and if these accusations are true, the interests of council were vastly different than those of the accused. One of the underlying principals of our legal system is that ALL persons coming before the court should be treated with human dignity.
  10. legal citizen
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    legal citizen - August 22, 2013 11:28 am
    Monica ring a bell?
  11. Rosanna
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    Rosanna - August 21, 2013 2:23 pm
    Trhimes, I agree, and many women never report because they don't believe that anything will be done. Of the 3 cases now before the ARDC, the oldest was from 2010 and it was reported to the police the day it happened. The CPD reported it to the State's Attorney.

    I believe that the Charleston PD handled their part appropriately. What I would like to know is how the State's Attorney's Office handled it. Did they report it to the ARDC?
  12. compassion
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    compassion - August 21, 2013 9:26 am
    First let me say he is innocent until proven guilty. Several people are questioning these women, let me just say this, it is a know fact that men or women in authority take advantage of and to a degree prey on people that are in a bad postion thinking they can "have their way" with them because of the trouble or problems they have. So, if it is true it is just another black againest law enforcement or those that are trying or should be trying to help people. They were probably scared.
  13. trhimes
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    trhimes - August 20, 2013 8:25 pm
    For those of you who are judging these women I have one question...have you ever been sexually abused in any way? If not then you have no right to judge why these women took so long to report. Read the statistics more rapes and sexual abuse go un-ported than the ones that are reported. There a lot of fear that they will be judged and not believed. congradualtions you have just become one of the reasons it is not reported. Wait for all the facts before you JUDGE!!!
  14. Hary P
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    Hary P - August 18, 2013 4:24 pm
    llvllax X -The supposed victims are replying to this story? There goes their credibility. Ya feel me? lol!

    Supposed victims? Sounds like you've already decided what happened. The rest of your comments says more about you than you probably realize. Would you be so cavalier if any of these women were your wife, sister or daughter?
  15. kellyjo
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    kellyjo - August 18, 2013 7:51 am
    Just because you have a public offender doesn't,give anyone the right to offend you let alone fondle you,the thought makes me sickkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk...
  16. Redskins
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    Redskins - August 18, 2013 2:11 am
    What these women are saying is the truth it happend to me I tried ti talk to a lawyer about it noone would take my case plz someone help me I dont know where to go or who to tell.
  17. Rosanna
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    Rosanna - August 18, 2013 12:33 am
    " by the ABA Code of Ethics"

    ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct
    Rule 1.8: Current Clients: Specific Rules

    (j) A lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual sexual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced.
  18. Hary P
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    Hary P - August 17, 2013 9:00 pm
    Given how so many are treated when they bring charges, can you blame them?
  19. Hary P
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    Hary P - August 17, 2013 8:59 pm
    You're absolutely right Rosie. Men that take advantage of women and children sexually are all to often using their position of authority (teachers, clergymen, law enforcement etc) .Having said that I still say we should wait till the facts are all out. I hope there's nothing to these charges but if they're true and he used his position of authority to abuse these women, he should be prosecuted to the max.
  20. Rosanna
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    Rosanna - August 17, 2013 6:56 pm
    Zullie, if you or any one else feels that you should report your situation to the ARDC, you can find the information to do so at this web address;

    http://www.iardc.org/information/online_forms/Request_For__Investigation.pdf
  21. equestria
    Report Abuse
    equestria - August 17, 2013 5:43 pm
    I must say, I have never seen such a complete description of the allegations against someone in the paper before. That being said I think the women involved should have been named, after all it is public record isn't it. I have read this article over and over again and I don't see that any of these women said to leave them alone or no or anything else against the alleged actions of Mr. Lutz.
  22. ajc
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    ajc - August 17, 2013 4:37 pm
    Battery/assault is a crime, genius.
  23. Rosanna
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    Rosanna - August 17, 2013 3:54 pm
    "Sounds like Disorderly Conduct at the most."

    Heavyweight, it's not so much the actions but the situation under which they happened. When a person charged with a crime can not afford or find legal counsel, the court is required to assign them a lawyer that will represent them. That places a Public Defender in a position of authority over the accused with their legal rights a stake. In that situation, an unwanted advance is not as easily rebuffed and a Public Defender knows it.
  24. legal citizen
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    legal citizen - August 17, 2013 3:28 pm
    Sounds like you didn't get the results from the judge you expected?
    Everyone is a victim, correct?
    Lonnie did his job. Maybe you can have Michelle or Barack to defend you.
    Oops, sorry, they don't practice law anymore. Lol!
    Zullie. Why were you in court for? Simple answer would suffice.
  25. llvllax X
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    llvllax X - August 17, 2013 3:22 pm
    The supposed victims are replying to this story? There goes their credibility. Ya feel me? lol!
  26. compassion
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    compassion - August 17, 2013 12:08 pm
    First of all does anyone other than me find it ironic that all this comes out a month after he retired? Why did we not hear anything until now? I want to make a point, everyone is innocent until proven guilty but if this were a normal citizen they would be arrested and have to post bond until their trial in many cases they would have been represented by Mr Lutz. Funny how when the shoe is on the other foot so to speak he there are not criminal charges.
  27. legal citizen
    Report Abuse
    legal citizen - August 17, 2013 10:37 am
    I totally agree Hary with you. The 'character' of the people he defends that don't hire an attorney. Well, I guess the 'class' of these people are suspect in the least.
    Tough job. I wouldn't do it. The clients probably have many more issues than why they are in court with a public defender.
    Go Lonnie Go! I support his defense.
    Remember one good lesson I learned (well, Hary not from you! LOL)
    "People are People".
  28. zullie
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    zullie - August 17, 2013 8:06 am
    U must b living under a rock or the country club subdivision. LOL!!!
  29. heavyweight
    Report Abuse
    heavyweight - August 17, 2013 7:59 am
    "He better not get any special treatment as far as him being guilty or being sentenced"
    "He needs to be charged & sentenced just like any one else who has committed this kind of crime!"

    "being guilty"? "charged & sentenced"?

    Being guilty of what? "This kind of crime"? "Charged & sentenced" for what?

    Sounds like Disorderly Conduct at the most. His leg touched theirs. He gave one a shoulder rub and kissed one. I'm not saying it wasn't wrong, it was. Doing something wrong isn't a crime.
  30. zullie
    Report Abuse
    zullie - August 17, 2013 7:46 am
    This has been known rumer for years. He used his power to approach these women. I know I was a victim too. The platiffs will win if other victims will step up to the plate. There is no no more fear for now is retired.







  31. Phillips4ever
    Report Abuse
    Phillips4ever - August 17, 2013 2:19 am
    This is an outrage! He better not get any special treatment as far as him being guilty or being sentenced. What he did to these women is not only morally wrong but ethically wrong. He was sworn by the ABA Code of Ethics when he recieved his license to practice law & he blew that out the window, but even worse, is the fact that these women have to live with the memories of what he did to them! He needs to be charged & sentenced just like anyone else who has committed this kind of crime!
  32. 61910
    Report Abuse
    61910 - August 16, 2013 10:06 pm
    It'll be like that EIU athletic trainer that was found not guilty. When it is an adult woman everyone turns their head in this town. But they always seem to do it again. I guess at least he retired
  33. Christian Peterson
    Report Abuse
    Christian Peterson - August 16, 2013 5:34 pm
    It could take many years to report something like that in fear of people saying its your fault or you asked for it.
  34. Hary P
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    Hary P - August 16, 2013 5:25 pm
    Sadly, some people suffer from knee jerk reactions at times. They have a tendency to think they know the answers before the facts come out.
  35. Cillalea
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    Cillalea - August 16, 2013 5:19 pm
    I wouldn't wish what happened to me on any other women. Before you cast judgement-or talk smack that you know absolutely nothing about. I'd hold off. 'No good deed goes unpunished'.....really? Ok, I'm gonna hold off on comment about that incredibly ignorant comment. I have nothing more to say, just let me leave you with this thought i hope it doesn't happen to your little girl. It's life altering.
  36. Marci
    Report Abuse
    Marci - August 16, 2013 4:54 pm
    I don't know anything about the women either...however, you shouldn't assume they are lying. It can be very scary to admit sexual harassment, esp. against an 'esteemed' member of the judicial system. I will hold off opinions til more details emerge.
  37. Rosanna
    Report Abuse
    Rosanna - August 16, 2013 4:43 pm
    The 2010 case was reported to the CPD who reffered it to the SA's office, no charges were filled but he withdrew from the case.

    https://www.iardc.org/13PR0083CM.html
  38. gringa
    Report Abuse
    gringa - August 16, 2013 4:10 pm
    Don't know anything about the veracity of the females making these allegations, but I suspect it's one of those "No good deed goes unpunished" dilemmas for Lonnie, and I suspect Lonnie may not have defended their criminal cases to the clients' satisfaction.

    Why did it take so long to file a complaint, and I have to wonder why formal criminal charges weren't filed directly with the States Attorney's office? Sounds like someone is looking for an out of court settlement.
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