Women’s Rights Ignored by Chicago’s Progressive Media?
Chicago an example of how crucial stories alleging misconduct against young women can be buried?
The fallout following the first conviction surrounding allegations that Jeffery Epstein ran an international sex trafficking operation is hotly debated.
In the aftermath of a five-count conviction against Epstein’s partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, that will no doubt generate a long prison sentence for her role in procuring underage girls along with Epstein, it is unclear if all the offenders, including high-profile political and Hollywood figures, will be brought to justice.
In the wake of the Maxwell verdict, other startling and macabre allegations surfacing against members of the media are emerging. Two high-ranking producers at media outlet CNN are involved in pedophile scandals.
One producer is accused of soliciting explicit photos of a female minor. Another was arrested on allegations he that he used online apps on multiple occasions to “persuade parents to allow him to train their daughters to be sexually submissive,” and subsequently sexually assaulted a nine-year-old at his Vermont residence.
Whether or not the full magnitude of unethical or criminal conduct against these adolescents and pre-teens will see the light of day may best be answered by looking, yet again, at Chicago. Here, the most troubling allegations of misusing women have simmered, but remain almost taboo among the progressive politicos and journalists, a highly suspicious silence.
The allegations emerged in one of the country’s most prestigious journalism schools, Medill at Northwestern University, involving a former professor there named David Protess. A man who gained national recognition for working with his students in a class that investigated potential “wrongful convictions” on behalf of convicted killers, Protess and his student sleuths were responsible for garnering the release of at least a dozen convicted men.
Protess' class came to a screeching halt when Cook County prosecutors began to review the tactics and claims of he and his students in one of their investigations. State attorneys demanded detailed records. In a short time, Northwestern announced it was banning Protess from the class and issued the following statement:
"In sum, Protess knowingly misrepresented the facts and his actions to the University, its attorneys and the dean of Medill on many documented occasions. He also misrepresented facts about these matters to students, alumni, the media and the public. He caused the University to take on what turned out to be an unsupportable case and unwittingly misrepresent the situation both to the Court and to the State."
A few years later, prosecutors dealt another devastating blow to Protess when they reviewed the central exoneration case of his career, the release of Anthony Porter in 1999 for a 1982 double homicide, an exoneration based on the theory that another man committed the crimes. That other man, Alstory Simon, replaced Porter in prison, until Cook County State’s Attorney reviewed Protess’ and his investigative team and determined that conviction was tainted by their suspicious methods. Here’s what then-prosecutor Anita Alvarez said after reviewing the case:
"This investigation by David Protess and his team involved a series of alarming tactics that were not only coercive and absolutely unacceptable by law enforcement standards. They were potentially in violation of Mr. Simon’s constitutionally protected rights."
Simon sued Northwestern and Protess after his release from custody in 2014 and obtained a settlement for an undisclosed amount.
Nevertheless, throughout Protess’ career at Northwestern, allegations that female students were being misused to push exoneration investigations dogged the university. These allegations compounded the scandal surrounding his “exonerations.”
How many exoneration cases that took shape from his controversial class investigations were truly accurate? And what role were his female students playing in these investigations?
One of the first allegations surfaced in a November 2010 article by Chicago Tribune reporter Matthew Wahlberg, entitled Prosecutors: Female's visit to prisoner a 'treat'.
Prosecutors on Tuesday unveiled documents that suggested students and staff with Northwestern University's Medill Innocence Project arranged a visit from a female student as a "treat" for a prisoner, in addition to making unspecified promises, before he recanted his testimony in a 1993 murder and armed robbery case…The filing included three memos and an e-mail sent by students of Northwestern journalism professor David Protess to an attorney representing convicted murderer Armando Serrano, who is seeking a new trial…"(The woman), a previous student of David's who worked on the case and formed a good relationship with (Vicente), will accompany us as a 'treat' for him, since he has requested to see her again," the student wrote in an April 2004 e-mail to Serrano's lawyer, Jeffrey Urdangen, a Northwestern law professor.
More allegations against Protess were made in 2013 by attorneys representing Alstory Simon, who sent a letter to Alvarez that initiated the long road to Simon’s ultimate exoneration. The letter stated “allegations of coercion would later be corroborated through discovery of a systemic, well documented pattern proving Northwestern’s use of identical coercive tactics in several other cases.”
In the letter, Simon's legal team made several claims about Protess' investigations. In one instance, they repeat allegations in the Tribune article regarding the Serrano case. Despite the allegations, Chicago ultimately settled with Serrano for some $20 million. Neither city council members or the media ever commented on the dark allegations made against Northwestern.
In another case involving convicted murderer Anthony McKinney, Simon's lawyers wrote that a witness to the crime stated female journalism students had “come on” to him. The witness said they acted as if they were going to “give up some p****” if the witness would talk to them.
The allegations against Protess found their way into a federal lawsuit in which Stanley Wrice, convicted for his role in gang-raping and severely burning a woman, was exonerated on claims of police misconduct.
From court transcripts:
"Witnesses from whom Protess procured recantations in other criminal cases have since come forward alleging that Protess and his team of investigators used coercion in various forms—dangling young female college students as sexual bait, impersonating movie producers, promising book/movie deals, making cash payments, and promising convicted murderers their freedom from prison—to procure false recantations from them."
Allegations of procuring false recantations in murder cases is bad enough, but adding accusations of alleged female students used as “sexual bait” from a team comprised of a professor and his students at one of the city’s most prestigious journalism schools, one would assume to be a major story worthy of media scrutiny.
Yet that scrutiny has never truly taken place. The absence of media investigation to determine whether the allegations are legitimate, and, if so, to what degree, is a stunning condemnation of Chicago's establishment press, particularly since the media was a virtual cheerleader for Protess’ exoneration claims during his heyday at Northwestern. It is also a stunning condemnation of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago City Council, for whom posturing and heated social justice rhetoric is the go-to strategy against police.
In particular, two media outlets, the Chicago Tribune and CBS Chicago, who pushed Protess’ central and hugely influential Anthony Porter exoneration case, the one currently flailing on the rocks of a second investigation by prosecutors, demands explanation.
Compare the largely silent CBS2 over the allegations at Medill under Protess with the hyperbolic and largely false media narrative over an errant search warrant in which officers burst in on a naked woman, a news story that generated the inevitable self-righteousness from aldermen who would dole out millions for exoneration investigations initiated at Northwestern. Nevertheless, the disparity in coverage might cause some to doubt CBS' motives and journalistic integrity.
One might wonder where all the feminists have gone in Chicago.
The burden of accountability is even greater for the Tribune. No outlet championed the work of Protess more than the scribes there, and none more than former reporter Steve Mills and former columnist Eric Zorn. Yet that accountability is nowhere in sight, even as the paper publishes one vapid article after another demanding police reform and accountability -- a demand lodged as the murder rate climbs to its highest in 25 years.
Wouldn’t any call for police accountability include the allegations of procuring the recantation of witness testimony under false pretenses and young students used inappropriately to generate exonerations? Try finding one story in Chicago about police reform or accountability even remotely touching on the dark allegations of false exonerations.
Forget about it, even after the Protess allegations and the suspicious nature of his investigations into the alleged innocence of convicted killers and rapists, the paper championed other dubious claims about high-profile rape and murder cases. One chilling case stands out above all others.
In 2017, Eric Zorn virtually demanded in a column that Cook County prosecutor Kimberly Foxx release two men, Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fult, from prison for the horrific rape and murder of a woman in the basement of Coleman’s home. Claiming “overwhelming evidence” another man was guilty of the murder, neither Zorn nor reporter Greg Pratt seemed to have talked to Foxx’s top prosecutors in the case, who, according to motions filed by attorneys defending the detectives in a civil lawsuit, still believed
Here is what attorneys defending the detectives in a civil lawsuit alleged:
"In fact, the CCSAO has made it abundantly clear it did not conclude Plaintiffs [Coleman and Fulton] were innocent. During discovery, the parties were given access to the decision-making process that occurred among the highest-ranking members of the CCSAO. The consensus among them was that Plaintiffs are in fact guilty of the crime…Not only did [prosecutors] conclude that Plaintiffs [Coleman and Fulton] are likely guilty, but they and the same group with whom they discussed the case also concluded the confessions were not the result of coercion or misconduct."
These shocking claims, like the allegations lodged against Protess and the conduct use of female students in his investigations, remain wrapped in media silence.
So what can the public expect when it comes to a full accounting of the Epstein case and others involving the alleged abuse of women? If Chicago’s past is any prologue, a deep cynicism for obtaining the truth endures.