We agree with Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter that there's enough smoke in a pending sexual harassment lawsuit to warrant a criminal investigation of Lake County Recorder Mike Brown.

Now we hope the Indiana State Police will accept Carter's request to perform that probe.

The recently filed lawsuit by former recorder's employee Estela Montalvo alleges she engaged in consensual sex with Brown, sometimes in his Lake County Government Center office, after he promised a possible job promotion.

If the allegations are true — and Brown is entitled to explain and defend himself in public and in court — it also could mean evidence of official misconduct, bribery and other potential criminal charges.

It's up to seasoned criminal investigators to make that determination, and the state police are a good fit as an outside agency to take an objective look.

State police investigators also have the ear of federal agencies and prosecutors, who can and should be called in if necessary.

At the very least, the sexual quid pro quo allegations against Brown throw up an appearance of possible impropriety by a county official.

Lake County, in particular, has seen far too many criminal indictments and convictions of officials abusing the public trust for this matter not to be fully vetted by law enforcement.

We eagerly await state police investigators' acceptance of Carter's request for a criminal probe.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editorial Page Editor Marc Chase, Editor Bob Heisse, Politics/History Editor Doug Ross and Managing Editor Erin Orr.