Local state's attorney faces criticism over official Facebook post

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Reporter - Kendall Downing

HARDIN COUNTY, Ill. - A local state's attorney is catching some flack for what she posted on her official Facebook page.

Hardin County, Illinois State's Attorney Tara Wallace released information to local media Tuesday including WPSD Local 6, pertaining to an ongoing investigation of a family member of the Hardin County Sheriff, Jerry Fricker. She also put that information on her Facebook page. 

In both the official statement and the Facebook post, she named the family member involved and the alleged acts, but said an investigation was ongoing and in the hands of Illinois State Police.

The post on Facebook generated almost 100 comments, with some calling the post out of line since no official charges have been filed.

Wallace said she got a tip about the alleged illegal activity back in February and passed it on to ISP. Since then, she said there have been lingering questions about the investigation, and that was the motivation for releasing a statement.

"There (were) issues back and forth with individuals coming to me and the sheriff both and asking if there was any truth to the matter or not. So I felt it best to put it in the public and let them know," she said.

Some commented on her Facebook post, taking her to task for releasing information.

"I don't see that she did anything wrong at all," said Bill Schroeder, SIU-Carbondale Law Professor.

Schroeder said that criticism of the state's attorney is unfounded. He points to rules in Illinois that allow attorneys to mention pending investigations and even name names, without formal charges.

"If they're outraged that it's making someone look guilty without a determination of guilt, that happens everyday when someone's arrested," said Schroeder.

Wallace said she was trying to be upfront about the status of the investigation.

"I put it out there for the media, once again like I said, because of public demand," she said.

WPSD Local 6 reached out to a master sergeant with Illinois State Police for an update on the status of the investigation. Our calls were not returned as of news time on Wednesday.

We also left a message for Sheriff Jerry Fricker but did not hear back.

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