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Court ruling disputed

Residents object to a U.S. District magistrate judge’s recent ruling that denies them the ability to intervene in court over EPA’s ongoing cleanup of lead- and arsenic-contaminated properties. Judge Paul Cherry argued residents failed to file in a timely manner despite having had sufficient notice of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's cleanup plan in 2012 and the subsequent consent decree filed between EPA and the companies responsible for the pollution two years later.

Quote: "Indeed, blasting a 'fact' sheet to the community, issuing a press release subject to the whim of reporter and resident reading habits, and resorting to notices in the Federal Register are not adequate or realistic ways to inform under-resourced individuals about the specific level and extent of contamination tainting their properties," attorneys wrote in the May 16 objection filing.

CROWN POINT — A 56-year-old former Illinois policeman who had prior child molestation convictions overturned on appeal will appear at trial on those charges again in February.

James E. McGee, of Yorkville, Illinois, was convicted in March 2010 of three counts of child molestation on allegations he repeatedly sexually abused a female from the ages of 9 to 15, according to The Times archives. The acts allegedly occurred in East Chicago.

McGee was a police officer for the Robbins Police Department in Illinois at the time of his arrest, archives state.

McGee was sentenced to 40 years prison, but the conviction was overturned in July 2015 by the Indiana Court of Appeals, according to court records. The appellate court determined that McGee, who was defended by attorney John Cantrell, was denied the effective assistance of trial counsel.

The appellate court's decision states the girl made the molestation claims after she was admitted into a psychiatric hospital in May 2009. The girl allegedly claimed she was pregnant, though tests proved otherwise, and was diagnosed with a nonspecific psychosis.

That information was not provided to the jury during McGee's trial, though it presented a “significant challenge to (the child's) credibility,” the decision states.

Cantrell said Tuesday he argued that the information should have been admitted at trial, but Judge Clarence Murray denied his request, citing the state's rape shield laws, which limit the defense's ability to introduce evidence of a victim's past sexual behavior.

McGee is now represented by defense attorney Kerry Connor. The presiding judge is Salvador Vasquez.

Vasquez ordered Tuesday a new trial to begin Feb. 12. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Jan. 9.


Courts and social justice reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.