Prosecutor summons an army to sex noncase

June 07, 1995|By MIKE ROYKO

If any criminal mastermind in Chicago has been planning a big-time caper, this might be an excellent time to get it going.

I've never given advice to a criminal before, but why shouldn't a newspaper try to be of service to all of its readers?

There is good reason to believe that the time is right. It can be found in a list of cops, prosecutors and investigators who are said to be working on the case of U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds.

This list was provided to defense lawyers, as the law requires, by the office of Cook County State's Attorney, Jack "Fearless Jack" O'Malley.

It is an impressive list. It appears to be almost as long as a college football roster.

On it are 10 Chicago police detectives and their supervisors.

There are 24 detectives from the state's attorney's investigative office.

And 10 assistant state's attorneys are listed as helping the two lead prosecutors assigned to the case.

We shouldn't forget the O'Malley publicity specialists, who show up in court for every Reynolds hearing and whisper advice to TV reporters on how to best extract a thrilling sound bite from that day's proceedings.

All of this manpower is devoted to proving beyond a reasonable doubt that U.S. Rep. Reynolds did indeed have a go at a woman, now 19, who says that she willingly hopped in the sack with him when she was 16.

The woman has since recanted her charge, but that hasn't discouraged Fearless Jack O'Malley. He's determined to prove that Reynolds did the dirty deed and persuaded the woman to change her story.

And that's why this army of investigators and prosecutors is scrambling for any information that could be used to nail Reynolds. Or at least generate TV footage that makes him appear to be the most dangerous fiend since Vlad the Impaler, which he very well might be.

Only last week, O'Malley's office trotted out Reynolds' disgruntled former secretary, who screamed at the TV cameras that Reynolds beat his wife.

The wife has since indignantly denied being beaten and says the ex-secretary is a nasty, politically motivated liar. But what does a mere wife know about such matters?

Of course, this is a noble pursuit of justice. I can't think of anything that could make the streets of Chicago and its suburbs safer than a successful proof that Reynolds frolicked with a consenting young bimbo. We could finally return to the good old days, when we didn't have to lock our doors at night.

While walking down a dark city street, it is comforting to know that investigators are out there knocking on doors and asking every female Reynolds has ever said "howdy-do" to if he ever leered, pinched, nibbled, ogled, drooled or breathed heavily in their presence.

And Fearless Jack is to be commended for his devotion to duty. Not only commended, but touted for higher office, which is the highest praise a Republican prosecutor can get for skinning a Democratic congressman.

But it is obvious that if you have limited manpower and payroll and you assign a dozen full-time prosecutors, two dozen investigators, your publicity experts and political consultants to one political sex scandal -- as earthshaking as it might be -- they can't find time to be gathering clues in Chicago's many cases of murder and mayhem.

Not that I believe for one minute that murder and mayhem and heavy dope dealing are as terrible a threat to the delicate fabric of our society as Reynolds allegedly unzipping his trousers with a consenting tart who now says she doesn't give a hoot.

But as humdrum as murder, mayhem and other crimes can be, they still have to be dealt with. Even if the killers, maulers and dope profiteers beat the raps, as many of them seem to do, O'Malley still has to go through the motions. We can't have judges sitting around in empty courtrooms telling each other doctor jokes.

And who knows, some of the accused killers, maulers, dope profiteers and other lesser-known felons might have even more serious skeletons rattling around in their closets.

It's very possible that when you investigate a gangster for blowing away a rival, you also might discover that the nasty fellow has been doing you-know-what with a 16-year-old gun moll.

Ah, then you are really on to something.

So the Reynolds case might only be the beginning of something really big.

Today, Reynolds.

Tomorrow, jaywalkers.

Go get them, Fearless Jack.

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