Attorney investigations center around Clinton County sexual assault case

CLINTON COUNTY — A sexual assault case in Clinton County is receiving attention nearly a year after the defendant entered a plea agreement.

The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission is reportedly investigating allegations that State’s Attorney John Hudspeth had a private conversation with the sitting judge about the merits of the case and its complaining witness.

According to court records, two men, now 20-year-old Zackary Shilling, of Centralia, and now 22-year-old Jacob Kriegel, of Aviston, were arrested in 2014 and charged in Clinton County Court with committing three different sex acts against a female complainant’s will while in a vehicle in rural Clinton County.

Both Schilling and Kriegel were charged with three counts Class 1 felony criminal sexual assault by force, with Kriegel pleading guilty in January of this year to a reduced charge of misdemeanor battery in exchange for the three felony charges being dismissed.

Kriegel’s attorney Eddie Veltman says that because he is Mr. Kriegel’s attorney and a witness in three ongoing investigations into the matter, he cannot comment on the situation.

However, court records show that days after the Kriegel plea and one day after a January 14 hearing in the Schilling case, Judge Stan Brandemeyer recused himself from the Schilling case that was scheduled for a January 22 bench trial before him.

Chief Judge Michael McHaney then appointed another judge to preside over the Schilling bench trial on January 27. But just one day before the scheduled bench trial, Brandemeyer’s recusal was vacated and he instead took Schilling’s plea agreement in the case on January 28th.

When asked for comment on the matter, Schilling’s attorney Steve Quinn said he would love to comment, but he shouldn’t because of the pending ARDC investigations in the matter.

According to complaints, prior to Schilling’s first scheduled bench trial, State’s Attorney Hudspeth entered Judge Brandemeyer’s office, informed him his case against Schilling was weak and that his complaining witness was lying.

Following that alleged ex parte communication, Brandemeyer recused himself from the case and allegedly reported the event to the Chief Circuit Judge.

When questioned about the allegations, Hudspeth said there was no ex parte communication and that the Schilling case is closed and he would not comment on a closed case.